Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Prescription opiates and kids: One pill can kill -

Nine-month-old Shayla Davidson was a sick little girl, and her mother had no idea why.

Pale, listless and barely breathing, the baby wouldn't wake up one day last month, even when 25-year-old Nicolle Jones rushed her to an emergency room near Cincinnati.

Medical crews were stumped, too, until they noted that Shayla's pupils were constricted, a tell-tale sign of opiate poisoning.

"They kept asking me, 'Did she get ahold of any medicine?'" Jones recalled. "I said, 'No.'"

In fact, Shayla had ingested medication, a single 60-milligram tablet of oxycontin, a powerful prescription painkiller.

But pediatric specialists at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital and Medical Center wouldn't know that until later, after they'd treated the child five times with a strong antidote and performed tests that linked Shayla's life-threatening condition to the common drug her grandfather takes for back pain.

"I about fell on the floor when they told me," said Jones, who lives with her parents in nearby Independence, Ky. "My dad keeps his medicines up high. We're thinking he dropped it."

Shayla's fine now, but she's also lucky, according to a recently released report from the nation's poison control centers. It shows a rising tide of prescription drug use is threatening unintended users: young children who accidentally ingest the powerful painkillers.

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