When Pennsylvania residents consider the people who have been affected by the opioid epidemic, they may think about adults. However, children have also been touched by overdoses and many have required medical care.
An increasing number of children have been hospitalized because of a drug overdose. Time magazine says that 1,504 children were admitted to the hospital for opioid use between 2013 and 2015, compared to 797 children between 2004 and 2006. Illegal narcotics and prescription opioids were the drugs many of these adolescents took before being hospitalized. While most were between the ages of 12 and 17, children younger than 6 were also treated for overdoses. Roughly 20 percent of the children under six were hospitalized because of a methadone overdose.
Additionally, pediatric intensive care units have received more patients. According to CBS News, about 43 percent of children hospitalized for an overdose require intensive care. Once in this unit, some children need to be on a mechanical ventilator to treat respiratory distress. More children are also visiting the emergency room for treatment for a drug overdose. About 135 adolescents received a positive test result for drug dependence each day in 2013. An opioid overdose resulted in the deaths of almost two percent of the children admitted to the hospital for treatment.
Many of these overdoses can be prevented if parents take steps to make sure their children do not get near opioids. If parents need to take a prescription opioid, they should typically discard any leftover medication. It is also a good idea to keep these medications in a lock box while they are in the house. Some parents may also want to discuss substance abuse with their children.