It is the worst of nightmares, the accidental death of a minor due to coming into contact with powerful drugs such as opioids (whether used for medical treatment or illegally) or prohibited drugs such as cocaine.
From 2015 to 2017, 442 of a total of 68,609 infant deaths (0.64%) in the United States were related to accidental exposure to these drugs.
These deaths are one hundred percent preventable, firstly by treating the addiction of the member of the family environment and, if it is a consumption through a medical prescription, following strict rules for the safe handling of these substances.
The report, from the National Institute for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that lThe drugs most mentioned in the death certificates were:
- medications for the treatment of opioid addiction such as methadone or naloxone, and
- cannabis or cannabis derivatives
mothers of infants who died from causes related to these drugs were mostly non-Hispanic white, between the ages of 35 and 39.
This high-risk population group tends not to have a high school education, and is more likely to use public benefits such as Medicaid for late prenatal care, compared to mothers of babies who died of other causes.
Exposure to these drugs affected some babies already in the womb, and they died at birth. Others died from accidental exposure to these narcotics in their first months of life.
One of these tragedies has recently been made public. It was the death of Ruby Auster, 10 months old and granddaughter of writer Paul Auster, in New York. Ruby’s father and Auster’s son, Daniel, a heroin addict, reportedly used the drug and never realized the baby was trying it.
Ruby died of an overdose and traces of heroin and fentanyl were found in her system. Her father is under arrest on a charge of involuntary manslaughter.
The death of minors (infants, children and adolescents) due to accidental consumption of opioids has been increasing, especially since 2017, with the increase in the crisis of the consumption of these substances among adults.
A study published in the journal Pediatrics analyzed 103 children under 2 years of age admitted to the health system for opioid overdose. In nearly all cases, the moms were using prescription opioids.
The researchers identified 8,986 children and adolescents who died from opioid poisoning between 1999 and 2016. The majority of these deaths, 79.9%, occurred in non-Hispanic whites.
The problem of child overdose deaths encompasses many other crises, from mental health to socioeconomic determinants. Experts assure that the main preventive measure would be a comprehensive approach, which treats and improves the comprehensive situation of the adult, so that the child stops living in a risky environment.
Experts say that the following strategies can help minimize risk.
Surveillance: the adult must know where the medications are at all times. You must have an exact count of the amount of medication in the home.
Security: medication must be kept in a locked cabinet or box. And out of reach of children of all ages.
Elimination: make sure to properly dispose of unused medications. Opioids and other medications should be thrown away when they are no longer needed.
In the case of addictions to heroin, which is a form of opioid, and to cocaine, the scenario adds even more layers of complexity. The adult needs to treat his addiction. The use of these substances makes you lose consciousness and judgment, and you are unable to care for a minor properly.
Heroin is made from morphine. Morphine is a powerful drug found in the pods of the poppy (opium) or Asian opium poppy plants. These plants are cultivated around the world. Legal pain relievers that contain morphine are called opioids.
If the person suspects an overdose, immediately call 911. And the national toll-free number (Poison Help) 1-800-222-1222 from anywhere in the United States.