What are kids given opioids for most often? It might surprise you

What do we really know about opioids and children?

Well, we know that the number of kids treated for opioid use in the emergency room has doubled from 2004-2015. Many of those were kids age 1 to 4 who had found someone else’s prescription.

And, we know that American Academy of Pediatrics is looking at opioid use and the number of kids who come out of hospitals with opioid prescriptions. For every 10,000 hospital discharges from 2003-2012, 16.6 children left with opioid-related problems.


Opioids are given to children for a variety of reasons. (Dreamstime)

Today the American Academy of Pediatrics released a study that looked at opioid prescriptions given from 1999-2014 to children on Medicaid in Tennessee who did not have chronic diseases. During that time there were more than 1.3 million prescriptions of opioids given to these kids. This represented about 15 percent of the prescriptions this group was given.

  • 31.1 percent were following dental procedures
  • 25.1 percent were following out-patient surgery
  • 18.1 percent were following a trauma
  • 16.5 percent were following infection

The study also found that there were only 437 cases of an adverse event related to the prescription that could be confirmed. 88.6 percent were related to the child’s prescription and 71.2 percent of these events happened when there was no evidence of deviating from giving the medicine as prescribed.

The interesting thing about this study is that the rates of an adverse event happened increased with age and with dosage.


Author: Nicole Villalpando

Nicole Villalpando writes about families in the Raising Austin blog and the Raising Austin column on Saturdays. She also offers a weekly and monthly family calendar at austin360.com/raisingaustin. She tweets at @raisingaustin.

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