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 18, 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 18, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Artificial Sweetener Could Promote Diabetes

Artificial Sweetener Could Promote Diabetes

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) Doctors once thought artificial sweeteners lacked the health risks of sugar, but a new study says they can impact blood sugar levels the same way. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Vaccine Trial Gets Underway at Oxford University

Ebola Vaccine Trial Gets Underway at Oxford University

AFP (Sep. 17, 2014) A healthy British volunteer is to become the first person to receive a new vaccine for the Ebola virus after US President Barack Obama called for action against the epidemic and warned it was "spiralling out of control." Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obesity Rates Steady Even As Americans' Waistlines Expand

Obesity Rates Steady Even As Americans' Waistlines Expand

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) Researchers are puzzled as to why obesity rates remain relatively stable as average waistlines continue to expand. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is expected to send 3,000 troops to West Africa as part of the effort to contain Ebola's spread. Video provided by Newsy
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:
from the past week

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