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Study shows more kids dying from fentanyl. Florida's attorney general offers a toolkit to help parents

Opioid Crisis Fentanyl
AP
/
Drug Enforcement Administration
This 2017 photo provided by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's Phoenix Division shows a container holding some of the 30,000 fentanyl pills the agency seized in one of its bigger busts in Arizona.

Ashley Moody is warning parents about the opioid after an alarming report found that children younger than 14 are dying of fentanyl poisoning at a faster rate than any other age group.

A nonprofit’s recent analysis of federal data reveals fentanyl-related fatalities are growing at a disturbing rate among American youth - including infants.

The study found that children younger than 14 are dying of fentanyl poisoning at a faster rate than any other age group, more than tripling from 2019 to 2021.

The study, from the nonprofit group Families Against Fentanyl, analyzed data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention on the synthetic opioid from 2019 to 2021, the latest year statistics were available.

Over that period, fentanyl deaths among infants increased twice as fast as the tally for those of all ages. During the first year of life, fentanyl deaths quadrupled, they more than tripled among ages 1 to 4 and nearly quadrupled from ages 5 to 14.

The study showed that fentanyl continues to be the primary killer of ages 18 to 45. Also, nearly all U.S. fentanyl deaths are "unintentional poisonings."

In 2000, more than one in four fatalities were suicide, but in 2021 that was down to less than 1 percent.

With these alarming statistics, Florida Attorney General Moody is warning parents about the synthetic opioid and sharing a toolkit with information on how they can talk to children about the dangers.

“This is disturbing news,” she said in a prepared statement. “As the mother of a school-aged child, I want to make sure every family is engaging in an open dialog about the dangers posed by massive amounts of illicit drugs flooding into our country.

“We have known for a while about the skyrocketing fentanyl deaths among young adults— and we suspected it was having a growing impact on small children, but this report confirms the urgent public safety risks all parents are now facing when trying to protect their children from this deadly synthetic poison flooding into our country from Mexico.”

Moody added that there are news reports of at least two high school students in the Northeast having complications from using vapes that are possibly laced with fentanyl.

Moody also shared a Fast Facts on Fentanyl Tookit (in Spanish) that provides information about protecting children from social media drug dealers and warns that substances obtained from them may contain fentanyl. The toolkit also provides examples of emojis used as codes in online conversations regarding illicit drug transactions.

I’m the online producer for Health News Florida, a collaboration of public radio stations and NPR that delivers news about health care issues.