Despite ongoing efforts to reduce opioid use among adults, an April 2018 Pediatrics study shows the number of pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) admissions for opioid overdoses doubled between 2004 and 2015.
"Opioid-Related Critical Care Resource Utilization in U.S. Children's Hospitals" is the first national study to examine how often children end up in critical care from ingesting opioids. Of 4,175,624 hospital admissions to 31 different children's hospitals during the study period, 3,647 patients were admitted for opioid-related conditions. Of these, 37 percent of the young patients needed mechanical ventilation and 20 percent required vasopressors, which are used to treat severely low blood pressure caused by narcotics. Among patients between ages 1 and 5 years, methadone accounted for nearly 20 percent of the opioids ingested.
Authors of the study said this finding suggests an increased risk to young children when parents or family members are being treated for their own opioid addiction or using methadone themselves. They call for increased efforts to reduce preventable opioid exposure to children.