Keeping children safe from prescription opioids

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By: CBS Los Angeles
March 20, 2017

LOS ANGELES (CBS) -- A new study finds poison control centers in the U.S. receive 32 calls a day about children being exposed to prescription opioids. Doctors say there's a disconnect between what parents know they should do and what they actually do to keep their medications away from children.

The number of children exposed to prescription opioids has fallen since 2009, but levels are still up from 2000-- and that has doctors concerned.

Dr. Marcel Casavant, the medical director at Central Ohio Poison Center, says, "Lots of bad things can happen when children get into these medicines... children getting sleepy, even to the point of coma and death. And children get respiratory depression where they decrease breathing or even stop breathing."

A study in the journal 'Pediatrics' found the main groups at risk for exposure are curious youngsters under age 5, and teenagers looking to either get high or harm themselves.

And while pediatric exposure to most prescription painkillers has declined, exposure to buphrenorphine continues to climb. It's prescribed to people who've previously been addicted to drugs.

"Although among the medications used for addiction, buprenorphine is the safest for the addicts, it turns out to be extremely dangerous to young children," says Dr. Casavant

The group Safe Kids Worldwide says, each year 60,000 kids wind up in emergency rooms because they got into medicine.

Pediatrician Marcee White says, "Parents should keep medication stored up and away, out of sight and out of reach every time after every single use.

Parents are also advised to keep medicine in its original packaging, to start practicing safe storage as soon as your first child is born, and to save the poison help number in your phone, as well as posting it in the house.

Visit to learn what steps you need to take if your child does get into medication.

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