The study, which analyzed U.S. pediatric hospital discharge records every three years from Jan. 1, 1997, through Dec. 31, 2012, found 13,052 instances of opioid poisoning for people between the ages of 1 to 19. Hospitalization rates were highest in older adolescents 15 to 19—they increased from 3.69 per 100,000 to 10.17 per 100,000—but the largest increase was among toddlers, with incidences among those 1 to 4 years old increasing 205 percent, from 0.86 to 2.62 per 100,000, for a total of 1,531.
Epidemiologist Julie R. Gaither, the study’s lead author, said research points to the likelihood that the majority of incidences among those 1 to 4 were accidental, from children getting into drugs prescribed to their parents, Ariana Eunjung Cha reports for The Washington Post. There were few cases of poisonings among those 5 to 9, with researchers saying children at these ages were able to tell the difference between candy and a dangerous drug. But once children hit 10, incident rates began to climb, and are more likely attributed to suicide or self-inflicted injury, Gaither said.