Acute opioid overdose in pediatric patients

Stephen Sandelich, Gwen Hooley, George Hsu, Emily Rose, Tim Ruttan, Evan S. Schwarz, Erin Simon, Carmen Sulton, Jessica Wall, Ann M. Dietrich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent increases in pediatric and adolescent opioid fatalities mandate an urgent need for early consideration of possible opioid exposure and specific diagnostic and management strategies and interventions tailored to these unique populations. In contrast to adults, pediatric methods of exposure include accidental ingestions, prescription misuse, and household exposure. Early recognition, appropriate diagnostic evaluation, along with specialized treatment for opioid toxicity in this demographic are discussed. A key focus is on Naloxone, an essential medication for opioid intoxication, addressing its unique challenges in pediatric use. Unique pediatric considerations include recognition of accidental ingestions in our youngest population, critical social aspects including home safety and intentional exposure, and harm reduction strategies, mainly through Naloxone distribution and education on safe medication practices. It calls for a multifaceted approach, including creating pediatric-specific guidelines, to combat the opioid crisis among children and to work to lower morbidity and mortality from opioid overdoses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere13134
JournalJACEP Open
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Emergency Medicine

Cite this