The alarming increase in pediatric fentanyl deaths has sent shockwaves throughout the medical community. A new report by JAMA Pediatrics reveals that the number of children who have died from fentanyl overdoses has soared by nearly 3000% since 2013, with 40 infants and almost 100 children aged 1 to 4 dying from fentanyl overdoses in 2021 alone.
For Emergency Room Dr. Angelique Campen, the new report is “really shocking.” Two of the deaths reported in the past year occurred at the Providence St. Joseph Emergency Room in Burbank, where Campen works. Although three of the five children brought into the ER survived, the tragic toll of fentanyl on young lives cannot be ignored.
Dr. Campen warns that fentanyl poses a significant threat to children, with many cases involving accidental exposure. In one such case where a 2-year-old child survived, Dr. Campen said, “the child was crawling on the floor and picked up a pill that was on the floor and put it in their mouth.” In another case where a toddler survived, the child had brushed up against a fentanyl patch their grandparent was using for pain.
The JAMA report shows that in 2021, 1,550 children died from fentanyl – a staggering 30 times more than in 2013. The increase in pediatric fentanyl deaths highlights the need for stricter regulations and greater public education on drug safety.
While patients have the right to request non-childproof medicine bottles when filling prescriptions, both Dr. Campen and Dr. Torbati agree that non-childproof containers are “a huge problem” when it comes to opioids and fentanyl. They recommend stricter regulations on the sale and use of fentanyl and call for greater awareness of the dangers of fentanyl exposure in young children.
Dr. Torbati emphasizes the need for adults to take responsibility for protecting children from fentanyl exposure. “We absolutely must protect our children. We have to be aware of medications where we put them… where they land,” he says.
The rise in pediatric fentanyl deaths is a wake-up call for parents and guardians. It is time for us as a society to prioritize the safety of our children and take necessary precautions to prevent such tragedies from occurring. We must educate ourselves and our communities on drug safety and demand stricter regulations to protect our most vulnerable.