Pima County not following trends on opioid overdose among children

Pima County not following trends on opioid overdose among children

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - A study in the national journal "Pediatrics" says the number of children admitted to the hospital for opioid overdoses has doubled since 2004.

There were 1,504 cases from 2012-2015 up from 707 cases between 2004-2007 in the 31 children's hospitals studied.

Pima County has not followed that trend.

"I'm not seeing it here yet," said Dr. Francisco Garcia, the Pima County Medical Director. "It doesn't mean it can't happen."

Pima County has remained steady with 50 to 60 cases of juvenile overdoses a year from 2008 to 2015.

In the zero to 10 years old age group, "zero cases," Dr. Garcia said.

It is surprising given the number of prescriptions for opioids in Arizona, which is estimated to be 80,000 a week or more than four million a year.

Just because overdosing has not permeated the younger ages, it does not appear to be the case for young adults.

Young adults between the ages of 20 and 25 are following the national trend and have seen a near doubling of opioid overdoses and hospital admissions.

Deaths have increased by nearly 25 percent.

The increase in hospital admissions follows national trends in all older age groups including the 80+.

It's possible when new numbers are released in the future, Pima County may show a spike in the younger age groups but for now it appears the community has dodged a bullet.

"That's why we have to be hyper-vigilant," Garcia said. "And must make sure these things are stored in secure places and out of the reach of children."

Read the report here.

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