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Risk for Suicide Attempts in Children Doubles With Parental Opioid Use

Opioids may be contributing factor to time trend in adolescent suicidality, authors say

FRIDAY, May 24, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Children of parents who use prescription opioids are at nearly double the risk for suicide attempts, according to a study published online May 22 in JAMA Psychiatry.

David A. Brent, M.D., from University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues linked medical claims for parental opioid prescriptions with medical claims for suicide attempts by their children (2010 through 2016) using MarketScan medical claims data for privately insured individuals. The analysis included 121,306 propensity score-matched parents (aged 30 to 50 years old) who used opioids and parents who did not use opioids and their 10- to 19-year-old children (148,395 children of parents who did not use opioids and 184,142 children of parents who used opioids).

The researchers found that of the children with parents who did not use opioids, 0.14 percent attempted suicide compared with 0.37 percent of the children with parents who did use opioids. There was nearly double the risk for a suicide attempt by offspring associated with parental use of opioids (odds ratio [OR], 1.99). Even after adjusting for child age and sex, the association remained significant (OR, 1.85). The findings also remained significant with the addition of child and parental depression and diagnoses of substance use disorder (OR, 1.46) and the addition of parental history of suicide attempt (OR, 1.45). The association was unchanged when accounting for geographical variation in opioid use (OR, 2.00).

“The care of families with a parent who uses opioids should include mental health screening of their children,” the authors write.

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