THURSDAY, April 14, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Overdose death rates among teens rose sharply beginning in 2020 largely due to fentanyls, according to a research letter published in the April 12 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Joseph Friedman, from the University of California in Los Angeles, and colleagues used the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Wide-Ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research database to calculate drug overdose deaths for adolescents (aged 14 to 18 years) from January 2010 to June 2021.

The researchers found that among adolescents, the overdose death rate was 2.40 per 100,000 population in 2010, with rates remaining stable through 2019. However, the death rate increased to 4.57 per 100,000 in 2020 and 5.49 per 100,000 in 2021. Overdose mortality increased by 94.03 percent between 2019 and 2020 and by 20.05 percent from 2020 to 2021. Fentanyl-involved fatalities increased among adolescents, from 1.21 per 100,000 in 2019 to 3.26 per 100,000 in 2020 and to 4.23 per 100,000 in 2021. In 2021, fentanyls were identified in more than three-quarters of adolescent overdose deaths (77.14 percent). The highest overdose rate in 2021 was seen among American Indian and Alaska Native adolescents (11.79 per 100,000), followed by Hispanic adolescents (6.98 per 100,000).

“Beginning in 2020, adolescents experienced a greater relative increase in overdose mortality than the overall population, attributable in large part to fatalities involving fentanyls,” the authors write.

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