Ian Patrick, FISM News
The national fentanyl issue continues to rear its ugly head, and this time it’s impacting our children.
A study from the Yale School of Medicine shows that fentanyl-related deaths among children have increased at an alarming rate since 1999.
“Little is known about the extent to which the fentanyl crisis has affected the pediatric population since the opioid epidemic began nearly 25 years ago,” the report’s introduction states. Researchers noted that there has never been a study on how the drug affects those under the age of ten.
According to reporting on Yale’s findings by Voz Media and the Richmond-Times Dispatch, fentanyl-related deaths increased by an astonishing 3,740% from 2013 to 2021. Within the same time period, fentanyl-related deaths in kids four and younger increased 590%.
In 2021 alone, 1,557 pediatric deaths were attributed to the drug, including 133 children under the age of four. Of all opioid-related deaths that year, 94% were caused by fentanyl. These statistics reveal an alarming increase when compared to 1999 when only 9 childhood deaths were associated with the drug.
Julie Gaither, the study’s author and an assistant professor of pediatrics and epidemiology at Yale, noted how the study should be cause for alarm.
“It is not just a crisis that is affecting the adult population. It is something that’s affecting everyone in this country, the most vulnerable, even infants,” Gaither said.
Gaither also noted that the exposure of young children to opioids like fentanyl typically happens in the home.
Linda Richter, senior vice president of Partnership to End Addiction, noted that these deaths are “mostly unintentional.”
There is a general consensus that the overdose deaths involving fentanyl among kids, whether young kids or teens, are primarily unintentional. … Among younger children, access to pills or substances laced with fentanyl that are left within their reach is the main culprit. … For older adolescents, the culprit is more likely a lack of awareness that the pill they are intentionally taking contains fentanyl.