TIME medicine

Study: Children Given Codeine in ER Despite Risks

Too many kids are getting codeine in emergency rooms, say the authors of a new study, which estimates that at least half-a-million children receive prescriptions each year

The painkiller codeine is prescribed to kids in at least half-a-million emergency room visits, a new study suggests, despite recommendations in place to limit its use among children.

Only 3% of children’s ER trips in 2010 resulted in a codeine prescription, but with kids making 25 million ER visits each year, authors of the study say too many children are getting the opiate, the Associated Press reports.

The study, published Monday in Pediatrics, analyzed national data from 2000 to 2010 on emergency room visits by children between the ages of 3 to 17. The study’s authors say the annual number of visits that led to codeine prescriptions ranged from approximately 560,000 to 877,000, though the frequency of codeine treatment slightly declined during the study.

A pediatric drug expert told the AP that codeine use has likely declined further since the study ended after last year’s strict warning from the Food and Drug Administration about the drug’s risks and possible complications.

[AP]

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