Postoperative Opioid Use in Children Decreased Between 2014 and 2019

A bottle of pain killers spilling out of a bottle.
Opioid use disorder,
From 2014 to 2019, there was a decrease in opioid prescribing after surgery among children, with rapid opioid deadoption beginning in late 2017.

HealthDay News — From 2014 to 2019, there was a decrease in opioid prescribing after surgery among children, with rapid opioid deadoption beginning in late 2017, according to a study published online April 4 in Pediatrics.

Tori N. Sutherland, M.D., M.P.H., from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and colleagues studied opioid-naive patients younger than the age of 18 years who underwent one of eight surgical procedures from 2014 to 2019 to examine trends in postoperative opioid prescribing. Data were included from 124,249 opioid-naive children.

The researchers observed decreases in the percentage of children who filled an opioid prescription: from 78.2 to 48.0 percent among adolescents; from 53.9 to 25.5 percent among school-aged children; and from 30.4 to 11.5 percent among preschool-aged children. The corresponding decreases in the average morphine milligram equivalent dispensed were from 228.9 to 110.8, from 121.3 to 65.9, and from 75.3 to 33.2. Rapid opioid deadoption was identified beginning in late 2017 and was seen first in adolescents, followed by school- and preschool-aged children.

“Our findings have helped to fill significant gaps in knowledge with regard to opioid dispensing and pain management in pediatrics,” the authors write. “The trend toward deadoption identified by our group is supported by a growing body of evidence suggesting that opioids can be discretionary after common pediatric surgeries associated with mild-to-moderate pain.”

Abstract/Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)