Doctors discovering high rate of children addicted to opioids

An alarming study just released takes a close look at the number of young people addicted to powerful painkillers. Doctors are calling it a pediatric public health crisis.

An alarming study just released takes a close look at the number of young people addicted to powerful painkillers.

Doctors are calling it a pediatric public health crisis as a growing number of kids addicted to opioid painkillers are being treated in the nations emergency rooms.

"Opioid use, abuse in children in the United States is a real big problem," says Dr. Veerajalandhar Allareddy from the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital.

Researchers say that nationwide 135 young people test positive for an opioid addiction every day.

These staggering numbers were detailed at the National American Academy of Pediatrics conference.

"We fear that this might just be the tip of the iceberg," says Dr. Allareddy.

That's because those opioid addictions are only found when kids and teens are taken to the emergency room for other issues, and doctors screen them for drugs.

The head of Cleveland Clinic's pediatric emergency departments, Dr. Purva Grover, is not surprised by the new research.

"I think it actually gives validity to what we have been seeing and what we have been thinking and feeling which is now put in numbers," explains Dr. Grover.

The study's authors which in-part include the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital are calling opioid abuse in children a public health crisis.

The majority of young patients in the study were college age. But some were as young as eight years old. And they'll need specialized treatment.

"They need a different approach in terms of their age and their development, and that's something we need to be cognizant about," says Dr. Grover.

A growing need for more and more children growing up addicted.

And the study also showed a disparity in treatment. Pediatric patients living in high-income households were more likely to be hospitalized rather than routinely discharged while uninsured patients were less likely to be hospitalized.

© 2017 KING-TV


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