24-Hour Crisis Hotline: (877)SAFEGBC or (877)723-3422 Mental Health & Substance Abuse Issues

6502 Nursery Drive, Suite 100
Victoria, TX 77904
(361)575-0611
(800)421-8825
Fax: (361)578-5500

Child & Adolescent Development: Overview
Resources
Basic InformationMore InformationLatest News
These Sports Are Most Likely to Send Young Americans to the ERNature Nurtures KidsClimate Change Will Hurt Kids Most, Report WarnsTough Childhoods Can Leave a Lifetime of Harm, Experts SayMany U.S. Parents Can't Find a Psychiatrist to Help Their ChildAnti-Vaxxers Find Ways Around States' 'Personal Exemption' BansMake a Plan for Gardening Next Spring With Your KidsCheck Those Halloween Treats So They're Safe to EatFast-Food Outlet in Neighborhood Could Mean Heavier Kids: StudyAntihistamines Linked to Delayed Care for Severe Allergic Reaction: StudyPain Twice as Common for Kids With Autism: StudyPediatricians' Group Calls for More Research on Artificial SweetenersExperts Support Weight-Loss Surgery for Very Obese KidsHalloween Can Be Frightful for Kids With Allergies, AsthmaLawn Mowers May Be Even More Dangerous for Rural KidsHow Young Is Too Young to Leave Kids Home Alone?Skiing, Snowboarding Injuries Most Severe Among Younger KidsKids' Trampoline Injuries Take Another Bounce UpwardsCan More Exercise Improve Thinking Skills in Cancer Survivors?Secondhand Smoke May Harm Kids' EyesScientists Spot Signs of Virus Behind Disease Paralyzing KidsHow to Keep Halloween Fun and SafeFor Kids With Genetic Condition, Statins May Be LifesaversNone of Top-Selling Kids' Drinks Meet Experts' Health RecommendationsChildhood Risk Factors Can Predict Adult ObesityA Parent's Guide to Managing Kids' Asthma During the FallFarm-to-Table Movement Goes to SchoolAHA News: High Triglycerides Caused a Diet Change – at Age 10Kids + Gadgets = Less Sleep and More Risk for Unwanted WeightCause of Paralyzing Illness in Kids Remains ElusiveHealth Tip: Preventing Backpack InjuriesFor Kids With Asthma, Depression Makes ER Visit More LikelyFor Poor Kids, Less Time Spent on Reading, Exercise: StudyTrain Tracks Deadly for Kids, But Many Parents Underestimate the DangerAll That Screen Time Won't Hurt Your Kid's Grades - MaybeDoes Parents' Smoking Raise Future Heart Risks for Kids?Anemia During Pregnancy Tied to Higher Odds for Autism, ADHD in KidsParents, Throw the Garden at Your Picky EaterA Good Night's Sleep Is Key to School SuccessHealth Tip: Helping Children Adjust to a MoveKids Often Prescribed Drugs 'Off-Label,' Raising ConcernsExperts' Guide to Trampoline SafetyDon't Let Kids Wander Alone in Parking LotsMost U.S. Parents Say Vaccination Should Be Requirement for School: PollIf a Child's Schoolwork Slips, Don't Rule Out Hearing LossNurturing Childhood Boosts Odds of a Happy Adult Life: StudyKids in Poor Neighborhoods Face Higher Odds for Obesity as AdultsA Prescription for Medicating Your Child SafelyIs a Charter School the Right Choice for Your Child?Health Tip: Mental Illness Warning Signs
Questions and AnswersLinks
Related Topics

ADHD: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Childhood Mental Disorders and Illnesses
Child Development & Parenting: Infants (0-2)
Child Development & Parenting: Early (3-7)

Kids Getting Too Many Opioids After Tonsillectomy

HealthDay News
by -- Robert Preidt
Updated: Aug 8th 2019

new article illustration

THURSDAY, Aug. 8, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Amid a U.S. epidemic of opioid abuse, a new study finds that even children are being prescribed powerful opioid painkillers after having their tonsils removed.

The trend is happening despite a lack of evidence that opioids (such as OxyContin) are the best option for post-op pain or complications, the researchers said.

"Our study suggests that many children receive opioid prescriptions after tonsillectomy and that the amount of opioids in these prescriptions may be excessive," said study lead author Dr. Kao-Ping Chua.

"We need to conduct research to identify interventions that safely and effectively reduce opioid exposure for these children," added Chua, who is a researcher and pediatrician at the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, in Ann Arbor.

Tonsillectomy remains one of the most common surgeries for children. Currently, the American Academy of Otolaryngology recommends non-opioid painkillers -- such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen -- for tonsillectomy.

But how closely are doctors adhering to those guidelines? To find out, Chua's group tracked data on nearly 15,800 U.S. children under the age of 18. All were covered by private insurance coverage and they had undergone tonsil removal in 2016 or 2017.

The researchers found that 60% of the children received opioid painkillers, with the average prescription lasting six to 10 days.

However, "to minimize the risks of opioids to children and their families, clinicians should rely on non-opioids when possible," Chua said in a university news release. "When opioids are used, they should aim to prescribe only the amount that patients need."

He believes that it's "possible to reduce opioid exposure among children who undergo this common surgery, without increasing the risk of complications."

Chua speculated that there are several possible reasons why so many children receive opioid prescriptions despite guidelines advising against it. One factor could be the mistaken belief that opioids might provide better pain relief or reduce risk of return visits for uncontrolled pain leading to dehydration.

But that's just not borne out by the evidence. The study found that taking opioids wasn't associated with fewer return visits for pain or dehydration, but it was tied to a higher risk of constipation and at least one case of an opioid overdose.

Conversely, some surgeons believe that NSAID painkillers increase the risk of bleeding after tonsillectomy, Chua said. But, again, clinical trials have not found that to be the case.

Furthermore, the median opioid prescription for children in the study was eight days, which could represent 48 doses of opioids -- much more than what the average patient needs, Chua said.

A prior Mott study found that children who underwent tonsillectomy in 2013 were prescribed an average of 52 opioid doses but had an average of 44 leftover doses.

Over-prescribing opioids to children not only poses a risk to them, but also to family and friends who may abuse the leftover opioids, the researchers said.

The study was published Aug. 8 in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more on tonsillectomy.