Children Whose Mothers Receive An Opioid Prescription At Heightened Risk for Overdose

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Children Whose Mothers Receive An Opioid Prescription At Heightened Risk for Overdose

According to a new study published in Pediatrics, children are at an increased risk of overdosing on drugs when their mothers have received an opioid prescription. In fact, the risk of overdose for young children was more that double of those whose mothers had prescriptions for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs instead of opioids.

Researchers examined data from children aged ten years or younger whose mothers received subsidized prescriptions for a NSAID or opioid in the past year. They pulled data from 2002-2015 from a public drug benefit database in Ontario, Canada.

Of the identified children, more than 100 were admitted to a hospital with an opioid overdose. Researchers match the children by age and sex, with four control in a non-overdose sample.

Their analysis revealed that children with mothers who were prescribed an opioid were much more likely to overdose. Drugs most often reported included cocaine (53%), oxycodone (32%), and methadone (15%). Fortunately, none of the overdoses resulted in death.

The average age was two years, and nine of the infants who experienced overdoses were under one year. Results suggest that some cases involved caregiver neglect, error, or even malice.

In conclusion, researchers posited that the role of providers in assuring the safety of patients who are prescribed opioids is critical. Moreover, providers should consider alternatives or prescribe lower quantities of opioids when applicable, and also should inform families about safe drug storage and disposal.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 52,000 persons in the U.S. died from an accidental overdose. Of those, more than 33,000 were related to heroin, prescription drugs, or synthetic opioids.

~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology

Reference

Finkelstein Y, Macdonald EM, Gonzalez A, et al. Overdose Risk in Young Children of Women Prescribed Opioids. Pediatrics. 2017, e20162887. l

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