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Opioids, OTCs Top List of Fatal Poisonings Among Young Children

Opioids are an increasingly common cause of fatal poisoning among children ages 5 years or younger, followed by nonprescription pain, cold, and allergy products, according to data from the National Fatality Review-Case Reporting System. “Over-the-counter medications continue to account for pediatric fatalities even after regulatory changes,” the authors write. “These data highlight the importance of tailored prevention measures to further reduce fatal child poisonings.”

The study looked at deaths attributed to poisonings among children aged 5 years or younger in 40 states from 2005 to 2018. “During the study period, 731 poisoning-related fatalities were reported by child death reviews to the National Fatality Review-Case Reporting System,” the investigators write. “Over two-fifths (42.1%, 308 of 731) occurred among infants aged <1 year, and most fatalities (65.1%, 444 of 682) occurred in the child’s home. One-sixth of children (97 of 581) had an open child protective services case at time of death. Nearly one-third (32.2%, 203 of 631) of children were supervised by an individual other than the biological parent. Opioids (47.3%, 346 of 731) were the most common substance contributing to death, followed by over-the-counter pain, cold, and allergy medications (14.8%, 108 of 731). Opioids accounted for 24.1% (7 of 29) of the substances contributing to deaths in 2005 compared with 52.2% (24 of 46) in 2018.”

Source: Pediatrics