Kids & Opioids: accidental exposure

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NBC News An alarming new study shows opioid-related hospitalizations among children have increased dramatically.

They have been called the "second victims" of the opioid epidemic, young children whose curiosity leads them to unattended narcotics, accidentally ingesting them and often developing dangerously low blood pressure and trouble breathing.

"These children are quite ill, and are using the ICU resources well and above the rate of the average child admitted to the hospital," says Dr. Jason Kane.

In the new study Dr. Kane and his colleagues at the University of Chicago's Comer Children's Hospital found the number of pediatric ICU admissions for opioid overdoses doubled between 2004 and 2015.

Many kids got into methadone, a narcotic used to treat adults addicted to painkillers. Two percent of these tiny patients died from opioid exposure.

"Two percent seems like a very low number, but when you think about two children out of 100 dying from a condition that could have been completely avoidable, that's disheartening," Dr. Kane notes.