Doctors are still prescribing codeine to children despite health risks

By Michelle Kapusta,

A new study has found that doctors are still prescribing the painkiller codeine to kids despite the known health risks.

CBS News noted that the American Academy of Pediatrics found that emergency room doctors prescribe codeine to children more than 500,000 times per year.

NBC News points out that the potent drug is prescribed for coughs, colds and injuries, despite evidence that it doesn’t work for many children and can sometimes even be fatal for young people.

The drug has been linked to at least 10 deaths and three overdoses in toddlers and children up to the age of 9.

The study, which was done over the course of 10 years, cited that only 3 percent of children who visited the emergency room in 2010 were given a prescription for codeine. However, with over 25 million kids visiting the ER every year, experts say that too many of them are getting the drug.

Codeine is an opiate drug that is converted into morphine by the liver. Some children can metabolize it too quickly which can result in excessive sleeping, respiratory problems or even death.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is hoping that doctors will consider other alternatives to prescribe to children and eventually retire codeine.



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