Chronic narcotic use is more than twice as prevalent in children with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), compared with children without this disease, according to a study published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.
“Chronic narcotic use is common in paediatric patients with IBD, particularly among those with anxiety and depression,” said lead author Jessie P. Buckley, PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. “Describing the characteristics of children with IBD using long-term narcotics is important to define the magnitude of this problem in the paediatric population and to identify potential strategies or interventions to reduce narcotic use.”
Researchers conducted a large cross-sectional study to compare chronic use of narcotics among children with IBD and children in the general population, and investigate factors associated with narcotic use in the paediatric IBD population. The study included 4,344 IBD children aged younger than 18 years, each matched for age, sex, and region with 5 children without IBD (a total of 21,720 children).
Results showed that 5.6% of children with IBD had at least 3 prescriptions for a narcotic medication during a 2-year period, compared with 2.3% of children without IBD.
Compared with the general population, chronic narcotic use was significantly higher for paediatric patients with IBD with psychological impairment than those without. Older age, increased health-care utilisation, fracture, and psychological impairment were also strongly associated with chronic use of narcotics among children with IBD. Increased use of narcotics with greater healthcare utilisation indicates that narcotic use may be a marker for severe disease.
Long-term narcotic use among children with IBD is not recommended because of GI side effects, disease complications, and potential for dependency.