More kids hospitalized by prescription painkillers - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

More kids hospitalized by prescription painkillers

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CHICAGO, IL - While overall prescription painkiller use among adults has leveled off, a new study shows opioid-related hospitalizations among kids have increased dramatically. They have been called the "second victims" of the opioid epidemic.

Young children, whose curiosity leads them to unattended narcotics, accidentally ingest them and often develop dangerously low blood pressure and trouble breathing.

In a new study, the number of pediatric admissions for opioid overdoses doubled between 2004 and 2015. Two percent died from opioid exposure.

"Two percent seems like a very low number, but when you think about 2 children out of 100 dying from a condition that could have been completely avoidable, that's disheartening," said Jason Kane, MD with University of Chicago Medicine.

Many kids got into methadone, a narcotic used to treat adults addicted to painkillers.

Doctors say any prescription medication should be kept out of reach of kids or locked up where they can't get to them.