Half of all fatal poisonings in young kids involve opioids, study finds
A new study in Pediatrics found that in recent years opioids were the leading cause of fatal poisonings among children aged 5 years and younger in the United States.
Researchers reviewed data from 731 poisoning-related deaths occurring from 2005 to 2018 across 40 states. They found that both prescribed and illegal opioids contributed to 47% of those deaths.
The study estimated that 40.7% of the poisoning deaths resulted from accidental overdoses, while 17.9% were described as “deliberate” poisonings.
“Strikingly, opioids accounted for a progressively greater proportion of the substances contributing to poisoning-related deaths over the study period, from 24% in 2005 to 52% in 2018,” the study authors wrote.
They also noted that children faced “new opioid sources,” such as heroin and synthetic opiates like fentanyl and buprenorphine, which are typically not subject to child-resistant packaging laws.
The research team used data from the National Center for Fatality Review and Prevention. They found that roughly 42.1% of the 731 fatalities were among infants 1 year and younger, and most of the incidents occurred in the child’s home. Many of the fatal poisonings occurred while the child was supervised, and in nearly 100 instances the children had open child protective services cases during the time of their deaths.