From 1997 to 2012, the annual number of hospitalizations for opioid poisoning rose 178% among children aged 1-19 years, according to data from over 13,000 discharge records.

In 2012, there were 2,918 hospitalizations for opioid poisoning among children aged 1-19, compared with 1,049 in 1997, reported Julie R. Gaither, PhD, MPH, RN, and her associates at Yale University in New Haven, Conn. ( JAMA Pediatr. 2016 Oct 31. doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2016.2154 ).

The greatest change occurred among the youngest children, as the number of those aged 1-4 years rose from 133 in 1997 to 421 in 2012 – an increase of 217%. For those aged 15-19 years, the annual number of hospitalizations went from 715 to 2,171 (204%) over that time period, which included a slight drop from 2009 to 2012, according to the investigators, who used data from 13,052 discharges in the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s Kids’ Inpatient Database.

The increase in hospitalizations for prescription opioid poisoning in children aged 10-14 years was 58% from 1997 to 2012 (rising from 171 to 272), while estimates for 5- to 9-year-olds did not meet the criteria for statistical reliability and were not included in the analysis, Dr. Gaither and her associates said.

The study was supported by grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The investigators did not report any conflicts of interest.