nytimes.com: Balancing the Risks and Benefits of Opioids for Children



CreditDonald Gruener, via iStock
CreditCreditDonald Gruener, via iStock

In a new survey of more than 1,000 parents by the American Society of Anesthesiologists, more than half were worried about opioid addiction, but almost two-thirds thought that opioids were the most effective pain medications for a child to take after a fracture or an operation.

Experts in pediatric pain want parents to understand that there are effective alternative pain management strategies for many situations, and they should review them carefully with their children’s doctors. Opioid drugs do have a place in pain management, and if used properly, they should not pose a danger of addiction. And publicity around the opioid epidemic should not get in the way of prescribing the most effective drugs to children with serious illnesses and terrible pain.

Dr. Linda J. Mason, a professor of anesthesia and pediatrics at Loma Linda University and the president of the society, emphasized that parents should understand that “there are alternatives to opioid pain management” and that they should be asking questions of their children’s doctors. And when children do take opioid medications, Dr. Mason said, parents need to understand how the medicines can be safely stored, and how any leftover doses can be disposed of.

“Opioids are very potent relievers of pain, very effective,” Dr. Mason said. “But they have addictive properties, and also side effects, like respiratory depression.” When she takes care of a child having surgery, Dr. Mason said, she may start with opioids and then move on quickly to other drugs.


read more