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Opioid Poisoning In Children Still High, Study Finds

opioids and prescription medicine bottle

A new study on calls to poison control centers, conducted in part by Nationwide Children's Center, found surprising information about kids' and teens' ingestion of opioids.

The study, published online this week in the academic journal Pediatricsfound that from 2000 to 2015, there were more than 188,000 calls nationwide to poison control centers regarding children’s exposure to opioids. Henry Spiller, one of the study's authors, says that number is down from 2010.

"Since then there have been controls put on prescription opiates, we have seen a decrease, and that’s a positive thing. We’re happy," Spiller says. "It’s clearly not over, we’re still seeing thousands a year, but it is improving."

The Center for Injury Research and Policy and the Central Ohio Poison Center at Nationwide Children’s conducted the research. Spiller says there are still two significant areas in the data to pay attention to.

“Even though there was a decrease in the number overall in age groups and everything, we saw two that weren’t, and this concerned us," Spiller says. "One was intentional use for suicide attempts in teens. And another was buprenorphine, or suboxone, in children under five.”

Suboxone is exclusively used for addiction recovery, and wouldn’t typically be prescribed to a child. Spiller says that that means children are probably finding it lying out in the home.

“That’s pretty concerning to us. All of these kids probably end up in the hospital," Spiller says. "We need to understand that these need to be locked up, like in a lock box.”