Pediatric Acute Opioid Poisonings Increasing Interview with:
Megan Land, MD, PGY 6

Pediatric Critical Care Medicine Fellowship
Emory University School of Medicine What is the background for this study?

  • Much of the research on the opioid crisis has focused on the impact to adults; however, children and adolescents in the US are also negatively affected by the opioid epidemic.
  • The percentage of children admitted to a pediatric intensive care unit increased over the study period as the clinical effects of the opioid ingestions increased in severity.
  • The primary intent of opioid ingestions was suspected suicide attempts in adolescents resulting in increasing admissions to a psychiatric hospital.
  • Opioids associated with the highest odds of needing an intervention in an intensive care unit were methadone, fentanyl, and heroin. What are the main findings? 

Response: The main findings of our study are that children were involved in just over 25% of a total (1,002,947) opioid-related cases reported to US poison centers from 2005 to 2018 What should readers take away from your report?

  • Despite efforts to limit and monitor access to prescription opioids, the proportion of severe admissions for acute opioid poisonings, especially following attempted suicide, is increasing.
  • Parents and pediatricians need to be alert to the risk of self-harm, misuse and abuse of opioids in children and adolescents, remove or restrict access to opioids, and seek mental health services for children and adolescents at risk for self-harm and opioid abuse. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Further studies to establish the effectiveness of policy changes would be helpful to guide the country through the opioid epidemic.

The authors have no disclosures 


Megan E. Land, Martha Wetzel, Robert J. Geller, Pradip P. Kamat & Jocelyn R. Grunwell (2019) Analysis of 207,543 children with acute opioid poisonings from the United States National Poison Data System, Clinical Toxicology, DOI: 10.1080/15563650.2019.1691731 

If you are at risk, please stop here and contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for support


Last Modified: [last-modified]

The information on is provided for educational purposes only, and is in no way intended to diagnose, cure, or treat any medical or other condition. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health and ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. In addition to all other limitations and disclaimers in this agreement, service provider and its third party providers disclaim any liability or loss in connection with the content provided on this website.


Last Updated on December 23, 2019 by Marie Benz MD FAAD