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Study Sheds Light On Opioid Use Among Children

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NEW YORK (CBSMiami) — A new study finds poison control centers in the U.S. receive 32 calls a day about children being exposed to prescription opioids.  Doctors say there’s a disconnect between what parents know they should do and what they actually do to keep their medications away from children.

The number of children exposed to prescription opioids has fallen since 2009, but levels are still up from 2000, and that has doctors concerned.

“Lots of bad things can happen when children get into these medicines,” explained Dr. Marcel Casavant, Medical Director of the Central Ohio Poison Center. “Children getting sleepy, even to the point of coma and death. And children get respiratory depression where they decrease breathing or even stop breathing.”

A study in the journal “Pediatrics” found the main groups at risk for exposure are curious youngsters under 5 and teenagers, looking to either get high or harm themselves. And while pediatric exposure to most prescription painkillers has declined, exposure to buprenorphine continues to climb.  It’s prescribed to people who’ve previously been addicted to drugs.

“Although among the medications used for addiction, buprenorphine is the safest for the addicts, it turns out to be extremely dangerous to young children,” said Dr. Casavant.

The group “Safe Kids Worldwide” says each year 60-thousand kids  wind up in emergency rooms because they got into medicine.

“Parents should keep medication stored up and away, out of sight, and out of reach every time after every single use,” said Pediatrician Marcee White.

Parents are also advised to keep medicine in its original packaging, start practicing safe storage as soon as your first child is born, and save the poison help number in your phone as well as posting it in the house.

Visit poisonhelp.org to learn what steps you need to take if your child does get into medication.

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