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Children also die from occasional opioid poisoning.

A report from Yale University researchers showed that in the last 18 years, almost 9,000 children and adolescents have died from opioid poisoning. Most of the deaths among children are due to accidental use of prescription drugs or illegal purchases. ( Pixabay )

Researchers at Yale University found that the opioid crisis in the United States claimed the lives of 9,000 children from 1999 to 2016.

In 18 years, the number of deaths has tripled, indicating that the problem is likely to continue if lawmakers and public health representatives cannot intervene and keep drugs away from children.

An alarming report was published in Journal of the American Medical Association,

Accidental deaths due to opioid poisoning

The researchers analyzed the multiple cause of death files from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to identify deaths caused by prescription poisoning and illicit opioids from January 1, 1999 to December 31, 2016. They found that most deaths, about 80 percent, were unintentional. Young children and adolescents died after accidentally taking the drug.

Meanwhile, about 5 percent of opioid-related deaths were associated with suicide. The teenagers died after an overdose from taking their parents' prescription painkillers or from drugs illegally bought on the street.

About 2 percent of deaths were from murder. Nearly a quarter of cases involving children under the age of 5 were victims of homicide. About 35 percent of this number were children under 1 year.

From 2014 to 2016, synthetic opioids were the main cause of death among older adolescents. Heroin, a synthetic opioid, causes 24 percent of adolescent deaths between the ages of 15 and 19.

Saving youth from an opioid problem

Although doctors began to change their prescription habits, Julie Geiter, a teacher at the Yale School of Medicine and lead author of the study, warned that the number of opioid-related deaths continues to increase as more teenagers become addicted to heroin and fentanyl. Older teens are at the greatest risk of dying of opioids, which accounts for 88 percent of the total number of deaths during the study period.

"These deaths do not reach the magnitude of adult mortality from opioids, but they follow a similar pattern, ”Gainer said. – When we consider how to contain this epidemic, parents, clinicians and medication providers must consider how it affects children and adolescents and how it affects our families and communities. ”

Mark Fishman, a drug addict psychiatrist and a professor at Johns Hopkins University, added to USA Today that young people are also less likely to seek treatment than adults. He warned that this could complicate problem tracking.

Gainer offered to take additional security measures to prevent medicines from falling into the hands of children. The researcher said child-friendly prescription drug packaging such as Suboxone can prevent death.

Parents also need to properly dispose of unused pills and lock up prescription drugs in places where children could not accidentally get into them.

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