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Children Whose Mothers Are Prescribed Opioids Face Higher Risk of Overdose

Young children whose mothers are prescribed opioids face a markedly increased risk of overdose compared to children whose mothers received a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) for pain, according to a study to be published in the March 2017 issue of Pediatrics (online Feb. 20). Researchers conducted a population-based case-control study between 2002 and 2015 in Ontario, Canada, through use of a public drug benefit database. The study, “Overdose Risk in Young Children of Women Prescribed Opioids,” identified 103 children age 10 and younger who arrived at a hospital for an opioid overdose and whose mothers received subsidized medications through Ontario’s drug plan. Half of the children treated for opioid toxicity were younger than two years, the study found. The most commonly implicated opioids were codeine (54 percent), oxycodone (32 percent) and methadone (15.5 percent). Children whose mothers were prescribed antidepressants also were at increased risk for opioid overdose. The authors conclude that prescribers, pharmacists and parents should be made aware of the potentially fatal risks to children, and take steps to lessen risks in the home.


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