According to study author Dr. Jason Kane, those child overdoses fell into two categories: teenagers taking drugs for recreational or self-harming purposes, and younger children who accidentally consumed their parents' opioid medication.
For the study, researchers at the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital looked through the Pediatric Health Information System (PHIS), which records the most serious overdose cases.
The majority of opioid-related hospitalizations were for older children ages 12 to 17, but one-third were for kids under age 6.
The number of hospitalizations requiring intensive care almost doubled between 2012 to 2015, rising from 797 patients between 2004 and 2007 to 1,504 patients during the most recent time frame analyzed. Overall, 37 percent of patients required mechanical ventilation and 20.3 percent required vasopressors, a drug used to raise blood pressure. Researchers found that about 20 percent of children in the youngest age group were admitted after ingesting methadone.
A needle used for shooting heroin and other opioids lies in the street in the Kensington section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., October 26, 2017.
While the opioid-related incidents were a relatively small percentage of the almost 4.2 million children's hospitalizations during the 11-year study, they reflected a 35 percent increase in pediatric intensive-care admissions for ingesting the drugs, according to the study. Aside from reducing pain, these drugs may also trigger feelings of intense pleasure or being high.
Around 2 million Americans have an opioid use disorder, according to federal estimates. Not only did the complete number of opioid affiliated admissions grow but the associations of the both hospital and PICU admissions grew as well.
So, Ryan said, it is important for providers who prescribe methadone to talk with patients about safely using the medication at home.
And in 2016 a team at the Yale School of Medicine found the number of kids who received emergency treatment for a drug overdose more than doubled between 1997 and 2012. They found that between 2004 and 2015, there were a total of 3,647 opioid-related hospitalizations in 31 different hospitals.
The PIL Task Force will aggressively deploy and coordinate all available criminal and civil law enforcement tools to reverse the tide of opioid overdoses in the United States, with a particular focus on opioid manufacturers and distributors. "We will use whatever tools we have to hold people accountable for breaking our laws", said Sessions.