Baby Boomers at High Risk for Death From Prescription Opioid Overdose

HealthDay News — Individuals born between 1947 and 1964 have a significantly increased risk of prescription opioid overdose death and heroin overdose death, and those born from 1979-1992 also have an increased risk of heroin overdose death, according to a study published online in the American Journal of Public Health.

Xiwen Huang, MPH, from Columbia University in New York City, and colleagues used data from the National Center for Health Statistics’ multiple cause-of-death file for 1999-2014 to perform an age-period-cohort analysis of drug overdose mortality.

The researchers found that individuals born between 1947 and 1964 experienced excess risks of prescription opioid overdose death compared with those born in 1977 and 1978 (eg, rate ratio [RR], 1.27 for the 1955-1956 birth cohort); they also had excess risk of heroin overdose death (eg, RR, 1.32 for the 1953-1954 birth cohort). The risk of heroin overdose death was also increased for those born between 1979 and 1992 (eg, RR, 1.23 for the 1989-1990 birth cohort). Consistent effects were seen between the sexes.

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“Individuals born between 1947 and 1964 and between 1979 and 1992 are particularly afflicted by the opioid epidemic,” the authors write. “Intervention programs are needed to reduce the excess overdose mortality in these specific demographic groups.”


Huang X, Keyes KM, Li G. Increasing prescription opioid and heroin overdose mortality in the United States, 1999-2014: an age-period-cohort analysis [published online November 221, 2017]. AJPH. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2017.304142