Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'One pill can kill': Effects of unintentional opioid exposure in young children

Date:
August 29, 2013
Source:
Elsevier
Summary:
Medication poisonings among children are an important public health problem. During 2010-2011, an average of 1500 children under 6 years of age was evaluated in emergency departments each year due to unintentional exposure to buprenorphine. Ingestion of strong opioids, such as buprenorphine, can cause central nervous system depression, respiratory depression, and death in young children.

Medication poisonings among children are an important public health problem. During 2010-2011, an average of 1500 children under 6 years of age was evaluated in emergency departments each year due to unintentional exposure to buprenorphine. Ingestion of strong opioids, such as buprenorphine, can cause central nervous system depression, respiratory depression, and death in young children. In a new study scheduled for publication in The Journal of Pediatrics, researchers study how young children are gaining access to buprenorphine, as well as the effects of unintentional exposure to its different formulations.

Buprenorphine (or the buprenorphine-naloxone combination form), usually sold as a tablet or film strip, is used to treat adults who are addicted to opioids, such as prescription pain medication and heroin. Tablets typically are dispensed in 30-day supply bottles with child-resistant caps, and film strips are dispensed in single-dose, child-resistant foil packs. Dr. Eric Lavonas and colleagues from the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center, the University of Colorado School of Medicine, the University of Oklahoma, Integris Baptist Medical Center, Degge Group, and Venebio Group studied 2380 cases of unintentional exposure to buprenorphine in any form involving children under 6 years of age. The average age of the children was 2 years. Common effects of buprenorphine exposure were lethargy, respiratory depression, miosis (small pupils), and vomiting. Although most children had good outcomes, 587 children were admitted to the intensive care unit and 4 children died.

The researchers found that children were 3.5 to 8.8 times more likely to accidentally ingest the tablets as have unintentional exposure to film strips; 95% of cases involved tablets. In 57% of the cases, at least one root cause for the exposure was identified: 415 cases involved medication stored in sight, in 110 cases the child accessed the medication from a bag or purse, and in 75 cases the medication was not stored in the original packaging. Although most exposures were in the child's own home, 5% of exposures occurred while the child was being watched by another caregiver.

Buprenorphine can be helpful in adult patients who are struggling with addiction issues, but it should not be accessible by children because even a single dose can be life-threatening. Therefore, it is important for all caregivers to be especially vigilant in keeping medications in their original packaging and up, away, and out of sight of children. Although this study focused on just one medication used in a specific population, other more widely used medications, such as those used to treat high blood pressure or diabetes, can be as harmful in young children. According to Dr. Lavonas, "This study underscores the value of providing medications that are particularly dangerous when taken by children, in single dose, child resistant packaging." This approach is likely to be more effective at reducing unintentional exposure than additional efforts at education.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Elsevier. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Eric J. Lavonas, William Banner, Pamela Bradt, Becki Bucher-Bartelson, Kimberly R. Brown, Pradeep Rajan, Lenn Murrelle, Richard C. Dart, Jody L. Green. Root Causes, Clinical Effects, and Outcomes of Unintentional Exposures to Buprenorphine by Young Children. The Journal of Pediatrics, 2013; DOI: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2013.06.058

Cite This Page:

Elsevier. "'One pill can kill': Effects of unintentional opioid exposure in young children." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 August 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130829093025.htm>.
Elsevier. (2013, August 29). 'One pill can kill': Effects of unintentional opioid exposure in young children. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130829093025.htm
Elsevier. "'One pill can kill': Effects of unintentional opioid exposure in young children." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130829093025.htm (accessed September 23, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Costs Keep Mounting

Ebola Costs Keep Mounting

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 23, 2014) The WHO has warned up to 20,000 people could be infected with Ebola over the next few weeks. As Sonia Legg reports, the implications for the West African countries suffering from the disease are huge. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Ebola Cases to Triple in Weeks Without Drastic Action

WHO: Ebola Cases to Triple in Weeks Without Drastic Action

AFP (Sep. 23, 2014) The number of Ebola infections will triple to 20,000 by November, soaring by thousands every week if efforts to stop the outbreak are not stepped up radically, the WHO warned in a study on Tuesday. Duration: 01:01 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
5 Ways Men Can Prevent Most Heart Attacks

5 Ways Men Can Prevent Most Heart Attacks

Newsy (Sep. 23, 2014) No surprise here: A recent study says men can reduce their risk of heart attack by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, which includes daily exercise. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Liberia Pleads for Help to Fight Ebola

Liberia Pleads for Help to Fight Ebola

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) Liberia's finance minister is urging the international community to quickly follow through on pledges of cash to battle Ebola. Bodies are piling up in the capital Monrovia as the nation awaits more help. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins