Pediatric fentanyl deaths up nearly 3000% since 2013

A new report from the Journal of American Medicine Pediatric Edition shows that since 2021, 40 infants and nearly 100 children aged between 1 and 4 died from a fentanyl overdose.

To Emergency Room Dr. Angelique Campen, the new report is "really shocking to me."

Two of those deaths in the last year were at the Providence St. Joseph Emergency Room in Burbank. Campen said three others — of the five brought into the ER — survived.

In one of those cases, in which a 2-year-old survived, 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, Dr. Campen said the child brushed up against a fentanyl patch their grandparent was using for pain.

The just-released JAMA report says that in 2021, 1,550 children died from fentanyl — 30 times more than in 2013.

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"I’m shocked. I’m absolutely appalled, and I’m horrified to see the kind of data that is now nationally available in this publication," said Dr. Sam Torbati, Director of the Cedar Sinai Emergency Department.

Both doctors acknowledged that patients have the right to request a non-childproof medicine bottle when filling prescriptions, but Dr. Campen said when it comes to opioids and fentanyl the non-childproof containers are "a huge problem."

Campen said a patient can request a non-childproof top at a pharmacy, but both doctors said maybe it should be required when it comes to opioids. 

"One hundred percent there should be a restriction like that," Campen said.

Meanwhile, DrTorbati said that "we absolutely as adults, as parents, as guardians, we absolutely must protect our children. We have to be aware of medications where we put them... where they land."

Both Doctors believe more public drug education is needed in this country.