*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on HealthDay.
More than a quarter of all opioid overdoses in the United States involve teenagers, and a full fifth of those cases were likely suicide attempts, new research shows.
The findings follow an in-depth analysis of nearly 754,000 American opioid poisoning cases that occurred between 2005 and 2018. All had been reported to the U.S. National Poison Data System. And almost 208,000 of those cases involved children 18 years old or younger.
During the 13-year study period, the pediatric overdose landscape has taken a turn for the worse, said study author Dr. Megan Land, a pediatric critical care fellow at Emory University’s School of Medicine in Atlanta.
Most significantly, said Land, “the proportion of children with suspected suicide due to opioid poisoning increased dramatically over our study period,” rising from just under 14% in 2005 to more than 21% by 2018. That increase, she said, “echoes findings in recent studies demonstrating that the incidence and rate of pediatric suicide attempts by [opioid] poisonings has been rising since 2011.”
The study also found that during the same period, the percentage of young patients admitted to a critical care unit following an opioid overdose rose from 6.6% to 9.6%.
Similarly, by 2018 the risk that a young overdose patient would end up in life-threatening situations and/or end up with a major disability or disfigurement ticked up from .10% to .13%. And the risk that a young person would die from an overdose also rose, from .18% in 2005 to .28% in 2018.
On a more positive note, Land observed that as a percentage of all cases, pediatric opioid overdose cases peaked in 2010. Since that time, the trend has been heading in a downward direction.
Land and her colleagues are to present their findings this week at a meeting of the Society of Critical Care Medicine, in Orlando, Fla. Such research is considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.