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Opioid crisis topic of Pediatrics for the 21st Century program :

May 20, 2019

Editor's note: The 2019 AAP National Conference & Exhibition will take place from Oct. 25-29 in New Orleans.

There’s no doubt the opioid crisis is a pediatric issue. Tens of thousands of infants are born each year with opioid withdrawal. Toddlers are ingesting their caregivers’ pain medications. Children and adolescents are being prescribed opioids for too long and in doses that are too high. Teens and young adults are struggling with addiction.

“Wherever pediatricians work, they probably touch the lives of somebody … who is struggling with some issue related to opioid addiction,” said Gale R. Burstein, M.D., M.P.H., FAAP, a member of the AAP National Conference Planning Group and commissioner of health for the Department of Health in Erie County, N.Y.

Despite its pervasiveness, opioid addiction may stymie pediatricians.

“Attempts at stemming the crisis have resulted in confusion and conflicting messages,” said Rita Agarwal, M.D., FAAP, a member of the AAP Section on Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine.

The Pediatrics for the 21st Century (Peds 21) program at the 2019 AAP National Conference & Exhibition aims to clear up that confusion and give pediatricians knowledge, tools and resources to help their patients and families.

Titled “Opioids Through the Ages: Caring for Children and Families in the Wake of the Opioid Crisis,” (C1021) the program will be held from 1-5:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25 in La Nouvelle AB in the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans.

“People should attend to learn about the scope of the problem, starting with our youngest patients. Learn about the dangers but also the extremely important benefits and appropriate uses of opioids,” said Dr. Agarwal, chair of the Peds 21 Planning Group.

Presentations by six experts will address:

  • management of neonatal abstinence syndrome;
  • prevention and treatment of unintentional exposures;
  • identification of youths at high risk for opioid use disorder;
  • multimodal analgesia for acute pain;
  • treatment of chronic pain; and
  • biobehavioral techniques to manage pain.

In addition, a patient will share a personal story of addiction and dependence.

“We really want to give a broad spectrum of information around the aspects where pediatricians can make difference,” Dr. Burstein said.

She noted that the session is timely given the increasing numbers of opioid overdose deaths in many parts of the country.

“We have a wide array of pediatric specialists that are able to talk about the issue and give pediatricians information, ideas and tools to … take back to their practices wherever they may be and use them to have a positive effect on their patient population,” Dr. Burstein said.

The agenda is available at

For more coverage of the 2019 AAP National Conference & Exhibition, visit

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