Opioid overdose for children can be fatal: Dr. Siegel

A medical study has found that opioids are putting more children into the intensive care unit, and Dr. Marc Siegel warns that overdoses can be fatal for a child.

“If you take the pill that’s intended for an adult, it decreases your breathing,” Siegel said to FOX Business’ Ashley Webster on “Varney & Co.”

A study published in the journal Pediatrics found that the number of children ages 1 to 17 who were admitted to hospitals for opioid overdose has nearly doubled since 2004.

The authors of the study divided the children into three age groups: 1-5, 6-11 and 12-17. The oldest accounted for more than 60% of the patients admitted for opioid overdoses. Siegel said many of the overdoses may occurred after children rummaged around parents’ medicine cabinets.

“The reason we know it’s accidental is about one-fifth of them are taking Methadone, which is used to get off of opioids,” Siegel said. “So clearly the young kids don’t know what they are taking.”

The study comes as America’s opioid crisis accelerates. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), overdose deaths from drugs including prescription opioids and heroin increased more than five times since 1999. In 2016, more than 42,000 people died in the U.S. from opioid overdose.

“This is a real warning sign for people,” Dr. Siegel added.