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Meg Munn MP - Sheffield Heeley's voice in Parliament | Welcome
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Parent’s drugs can kill their children

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Meg Munn MP, Chair of the Child Protection All-Party Parliamentary Group, yesterday hosted the launch of the new Adfam report, Medications in Drug Treatment Minimising the Risk to Children.

This report details the risks to children of drug treatment medications, particularly involving opiate substitutes. It analysed the 17 Serious Case Reviews between 2008-13, undertaken when a child in care dies from abuse or neglect. In about a fifth parents were "deliberately administering methadone to young children, apparently in misguided attempts to soothe or pacify them".

There are six recommendations to reduce the risks to children posed when Opioid Substitution Treatment (OST) medications (methadone and buprenorphine) are not being adequately managed.  The charity also warned that many of cases were preventable deaths where children died after accidently drinking methadone and called for the synthetic Opioid to be kept in "strong boxes" to prevent a fatal mishap at home. Only last December a two-year-old boy died after swallowing his mother’s methadone.

Meg said:

"Whilst we have a clear view of the risks involved with these medications, it’s unacceptable that we don’t know how many children might be affected: we need to know more about take-home prescriptions and how many children are exposed to them.

These tragedies can be avoided in many situations. Parents and all the professionals working with them have a responsibility to manage the dangers posed by powerful prescription drugs being stored in the home, and we need them all to take a more active role in minimising risk."

Oliver French from Adfam said:

"Although methadone is effective in treating drug addiction, child ingestions happen with depressing regularity and national lessons are not being learned from Serious Case Reviews. We are seeing a rare but real use of methadone as a pacifier for small children."

Judith Yates, an inner-city Birmingham GP working on drug policy who advised Adfam, said:

"Giving methadone to young children is not as strange as you might think".

Sue Bancroft, Substance Misuse Manager at Bristol City Council, spoke about the deaths of two children in the city. She said that hair samples taken from children confirmed that OSTs were being given to children regularly over a period of time.

The full report can be found on the Adfam website:

http://www.adfam.org.uk/cms/docs/adfam_ost_fullreport_web.pdf

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