Children who have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) appear to be more likely to use narcotic painkillers for an extended period than children without the condition. These findings were reported in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.
Narcotic painkillers (also called opioids) are used to relieve pain. They can be effective for short-term use but—due to side effects such as nausea and vomiting, constipation, and dependency—are not recommended for long-term use in patients with IBD. In particular, extended use of these painkillers in children with IBD is discouraged.
Researchers conducted a study to find out how likely children with IBD are to use narcotics painkillers. They used a database including almost 5,000,000 children and found 4,344 who had been diagnosed with IBD. They compared children with IBD with children without IBD who were the same age and sex and from the same region.
All children were evaluated for long-term, or chronic, use of narcotics. Use was considered “chronic” if children had been prescribed narcotics three or more times between 2010 and 2011.
Children with IBD appeared to have used narcotics chronically twice as much as children without IBD, with chronic use at 5.6% in children with IBD versus 2.3% in children without IBD. Children with IBD who had psychological issues, including anxiety and depression, had significantly higher rates of chronic narcotic use. As well, among children with IBD, those who were older, those had used healthcare services more often, and those who had experienced a fracture were more likely to have used narcotics chronically.
According to these findings, chronic use of narcotics among children with IBD is more common than among children without IBD. This appears to be especially common in children with IBD who also have anxiety and depression. In order to prevent side effects of long-term use of narcotics among children with IBD, the researchers recommend that providers are aware of and screen for psychological issues among these young patients.
Reference: Buckley JP, Cook SF, Allen JK, Kappelman MD. Prevalence of Chronic Narcotic Use Among Children with Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. February 2015. Volume 13, Issue 2.