11/07/2024 01:29 PM

NEW YORK, July 11 (Bernama-Xinhua) -- The fentanyl crisis continues to devastate US communities, with toddlers and infants increasingly becoming unsuspecting victims of this opioid, which is 50 times more potent than heroin. Public health experts have highlighted this alarming trend, as reported by Xinhua, citing a Los Angeles Times article.

While adults make up the vast number of fentanyl-related deaths, more children below the age of five are dying or arriving in emergency rooms testing positive for the drug, public health experts reveal.

"The number of drug overdoses nationwide has fallen for the first time in years, but the incidences of children overdosing have surged, doctors say, as they are exposed to opioids and drug paraphernalia at home or by accidental ingestion," reported the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday.

According to the report, although West Virginia has the highest fentanyl-related death rate, California has the most deaths overall, with 6,473 in 2022. Officials nationwide are struggling to come up with solutions to prevent young children from dying.

"If you have these children that are left in chaotic homes, in homes that have ... drugs around, that just increases the risk exponentially, particularly for these little vulnerable kids that explore their world by putting everything in their mouths," Emily Rose, co-author of a study about recognising and treating paediatric and adolescent opioid overdoses, was quoted as saying.

America's Poison Centres, which represents 55 accredited poison control centres in the US, reports a dramatic increase in fentanyl exposure among young children nationwide. In 2016, the centres received 10 reports of fentanyl exposure in children under age six. That number rose to 539 in 2023.

In California, preliminary data from the Department of Public Health show that 11 fentanyl-related deaths occurred in the state in children younger than five years old during the first three quarters of 2023, the most recent statistics available. There were 10 deaths for all of 2022 and six fentanyl-related deaths in 2021.  


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