Veterinary-Prescribed Buprenorphine Ingestion in a 2-Year-Old Girl

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Ingestion of buprenorphine by young children is on the rise and can lead to life-threatening consequences and death. Exposure most often occurs when a child acquires the medication intended for adult use. However, buprenorphine is also prescribed by veterinarians and may be sent home, typically in non–child-resistant packaging, to be administered to the family pet.


A previously healthy 2-year-old girl weighing 11.36 kg was found with a 1-mL syringe containing 0.6 mg/mL of buprenorphine in her mouth. The syringe had been in a plastic bag provided to the family by their veterinarian for the family dog. She was hospitalized for 24 hours but remained asymptomatic and was discharged healthy. This type of exposure to buprenorphine has not previously been described in the literature.


Having this unsecured medication in the home increases the potential risk of exposure for young children and associated health consequences. Pediatricians should be aware of the potential dangers that veterinary pharmaceuticals can pose and educate parents about proper storage of medications. In addition, veterinarians should take extra precautions when dispensing these medications to pet owners with children.

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