Report: Number of children overdosing on the rise

Published: Jan. 14, 2019 at 6:50 PM EST
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The number of children and adolescents in the United States overdosing and dying on opioids is growing. During the past decade, the number of pediatric deaths attributed to overdose almost tripled, according to a report from JAMA Network Open.

Coroners were initially not seeing teenagers and kids. It was mainly older adults who were overdosing on opioids, but there is a new trend surfacing.

Dr. Charles Eckerline is the most senior physician at the University of Kentucky emergency department. He told WKYT Investigates that kids are far from exempt from the drug epidemic.

"The only reason they generally come here is if they've overdosed, and we see a fair amount of that. Some of it is heroin, some is prescription, some is their parent's medication," Eckerline said.

But Dr. Eckerline isn't just seeing opioid overdoses. He said mainly adolescents are coming in the emergency room on synthetic marijuana.

"Synthetic marijuana is really popular among adolescents and young adults," Eckerline explained.

Another reality the doctor sees is young children, infants and toddlers who have accidentally injected a drug or came too close to a substance.

"Certainly we see it occasionally. There have been children injured when they're around meth or people making it," Eckerline said. "We've had children who have picked up pills that their parents have picked up legally or illegally."

From Dr. Eckerline's view, the only thing he and other doctors can do is realize children can get addicted too, just like adults. Parents and other caretakers are advised take caution when giving young children painkillers. Prescriptions should also be locked away, because this epidemic is creeping into a new generation.