A disturbing discovery about kids and prescription pain killers.
The extensive use and abuse of opioids has been called an epidemic in this country.
The problem in adults has received a lot of news coverage, however, the effects it is having on children has not received the attention deserved.
A new study is shedding light on the issue.
Pharmacies fill more than 650,000 prescription for opioids every day in the U.S., and because of that the number of calls made to the poison control hotline is also increasing.
"In this study, we found that poison control centers in the United States receive a call every 45 minutes for a child that has been exposed to opioid medications."
Researchers at Nationwide Children’s Hospital analyzed calls to poison control centers between 2000 and 2015, and found a sharp increase related to opioids initially but a drop since 2009, with one notable exception.
"We saw a pretty significant increase among young children getting into medications that are used to treat opiate dependence.
Buprenorphine, in particular, had a significant increase in exposures to young children."
Drugs like buprenorphine or suboxone are especially dangerous.
They are primarily used to help people addicted to heroin or other opiods. However, they can be dangerous and deadly in the hands of children.
"When children get exposed to buprenorphine, if mom or dad sees it happening and they take the pill out of the child's mouth, their child can still go into a coma and stop breathing many hours later."
Experts are calling for increased prevention efforts to better protect children including changes in how these pills are packages.
Instead of loose pills in bottles, they suggest increased use of blister packs or single-dose packaging.
"Keep these things up, away and out of sight. Preferably in a locked location so they can't get access to them."