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Opioid Epidemic in US Also Hitting Children, Teens

  • VOA News

Children and teens are not immune to the opioid epidemic sweeping the United States.

A new study from the Yale University School of Medicine reveals opioid poisoning among children has doubled in recent years.

The study, which was published in JAMA Pediatrics, examined hospital discharge records during a 16-year period from 1997 to 2012. They found the biggest surge in poisonings was seen among toddlers ages one to four, with rates rising twofold.

Teens aged 15 to 19 were the most hospitalized among the ages studied.

The lead author of the study, Dr. Julie Gaither said in light of the findings, adults should be careful to prevent their kids from accessing the pills.

"Opioids are ubiquitous now," said Julie Gaither, a postdoctoral fellow at Yale School of Public Health and the study's lead author in an interview with NPR. "Enough opioids are prescribed every year to put a bottle of painkillers in every household. They're everywhere, and kids are getting into them."

She added that opioids are found in 289 million American homes.

"They're either finding medications on the floor, countertop [or] in their mother's purse," Gaither told Fox News.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioid overdoses killed more than 28,000 people in the United States in 2014. About half of them involved prescription opioids.

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