Increased opioid prescriptions linked to higher foster care rates in Florida

Rising rates of opioid prescriptions in Florida coincided with an increase in the number of children removed from their homes in the state due to parental neglect, according to a study published in Health Affairs

For the study, researchers analyzed data submitted by Florida's 67 counties from 2012 through 2015 to the federal government's Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System. Researchers juxtaposed foster care data with data compiled in Florida Drug-Related Outcomes Surveillance and Tracking System over the same time period.

Researchers found the rate of children who entered the foster care system due to child neglect increased by 129 percent from 2012 to 2015. During this time, opioid prescriptions increased from 72.33 prescriptions for every 100 residents in 2012 to 81.34 prescriptions for every 100 residents in 2015. Researchers determined a rise of 6.7 opioid prescriptions per 100 residents to be associated with a 32 percent increase in children removed from homes due to parental neglect.

In 2013, Florida began implementing new policies to restrict opioid prescriptions, which has resulted in a decline in prescriptions in the last two years.

"While the reported drop in opioid prescription rates over the last two years is encouraging, unfortunately it appears illicit opioid use has more than offset the decrease," said lead author Troy Quast, PhD, associate professor with the University of South Florida College of Public Health in Tampa, Fla. "We need to keep affected children in the forefront of our minds when tackling this crisis."

More articles on opioids: 
Joint pain patients prescribed opioids more likely to report high care satisfaction 
Scientists advance toward creation of nonaddictive opioids: 5 things to know 
Penn State to hold opioid epidemic summit: 3 things to know

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