THURSDAY, Jan. 3, 2019 (HealthDay News) — From 1999 to 2016, there was close to a threefold increase in the pediatric mortality rate from opioid poisonings in the United States, according to a study published online Dec. 28 in JAMA Network Open.

Julie R. Gaither, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.N., from the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, and colleagues examined national trends in a population of 8,986 children and adolescents who died in U.S. settings from opioid poisonings between 1999 and 2016.

The researchers found that the overall pediatric mortality rate increased 268.2 percent, from 0.22 to 0.81 per 100,000 in 1999 to 2016, respectively. The annual rates were highest among adolescents aged 15 to 19 years, but steady linear increases were also seen for children aged 0 to 4 and 5 to 9 years. Heroin was implicated in 1,872 deaths among adolescents aged 15 to 19 years, with a 404.8 percent increase in rates, from 0.21 to 1.06; for prescription opioids, rates increased 94.7 percent, from 0.57 to 1.11. A total of 1,508 opioid deaths occurred among adolescents aged 15 to 19 years between 2014 and 2016; 31.0 percent of these deaths were attributed to synthetic opioids.

“Isolated solutions that fail to account for how entire families and communities are affected by adult opioid use are unlikely to lead to a substantive reduction in opioid deaths for either children or adults,” the authors write.

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