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USF Researchers Find Link Between Opioid Prescriptions, Parental Neglect

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The opioid epidemic has become so severe it’s considered a national public health emergency, and a recent report suggests it could be linked to a higher rate of children in foster homes.

Health News Florida's Daylina Miller talked with lead author Troy Quast, PhD, of the University of South Florida College of Public Health about the association between the rate of opioid prescriptions in Florida, and the number of children removed from their homes due to parental neglect.

Some highlights from the report:

  • In 2015, roughly two out of every 1000 kids and teens were removed from their homes due to parental neglect, reflecting a 129 percent increase since 2012.
  • The number of opioids prescribed during this same time period rose 9 percent.
  • In 2012, doctors prescribed 72.33 prescriptions for every 100 residents. The rate grew to 81.34 by 2015, averaging 74.1 prescriptions during the 2012-2015 time frame. It’s important to note the rate dropped 2.5 percent in 2013, following the implementation of several new state policies regarding pain clinics and a prescription drug monitoring program.
  • Some counties averaged about one prescription a year for every three people, while other counties had as many as 1.5 opioid prescriptions per person each year. The highest rates were found in predominantly white counties.
  • On average, for every additional 6.7 opioid prescriptions per 100 people, the removal rate for parental neglect increased by 32 percent. This estimated increase corresponds to roughly 2000 additional children removed, resulting in an annual state fiscal cost of $40 million.

I took my first photography class when I was 11. My stepmom begged a local group to let me into the adults-only class, and armed with a 35 mm disposable camera, I started my journey toward multimedia journalism.