Doctors Writing Fewer Opioid Prescriptions for Children and Teens

doctor and teen

Doctors have been writing fewer opioid prescriptions for children and teens in the United States since 2012, according to a new study.

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston analyzed 2004-2017 data from a commercial insurance provider, HealthDay reports. They found in 2004, an average of 3 in every 1,000 children under age 18 had received an outpatient opioid prescription in a given month. Between 2009 and 2012, that rose to 4 in 1,000, but dipped to 2 per 1,000 by 2017.

“Understanding patterns of opioid use in children and adolescents is important because use in early life has been associated with a higher likelihood of opioid misuse in the future,” study first author Dr. Joshua Gagne said in a news release. He added, “Despite the downward trends for opioid prescriptions, the frequency of opioid use remains high given the risks associated with these medications in younger populations.”

Does My Child Need Opioids to Cope with Severe and Acute Pain?

If your child has acute pain, opioids may lead to addiction. But parents can ask a doctor about mitigating the risk while still dealing with the pain.

opioid alternatives for pain

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