LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — While the death of a child from a drug overdose is shockingly tragic, it is not as rare as you may think. Experts say the number of children overdosing on drugs is increasing, right along with the opioid crisis.
On April 13, Las Vegas police and paramedics responded to a call of an unresponsive 1-year-old inside a home near Boulder Highway and Russell Road.
Three months later, we now know she died from an accidental drug overdose of heroin and fentanyl. The Clark County Coroner's Office released an autopsy report on June 21.
"People don’t realize a small pill, opiods by prescription, can be literally lethal for a child," says Doctor Constantine George, founder and CEO of Vedius App.
Dr. George says there is an epidemic of drug use; both illegal drugs and prescribed medications.
"So, if you have the adult population that has more accessibility, they are going to have more of these things in their home environment where the kids are," says Dr. George. "So they have more access to those substances."
While we do not know how this child got either drug, overdoses among children and teens are on the rise.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been tracking the numbers for two decades now. When it comes to opioids, the number of deaths from overdose has tripled.
25% of the deaths involving children under five were intentional.
Documents from the Division of Family Services show the child's family has a history with child protective services, including an incident from 2016 before the child was born.
The allegations were substantial, but the case was eventually closed with the report saying the family was not in need of referrals or services.
Denise Tanata of Children's Advocacy Alliance can’t speak for CPS but does offer a possible explanation.
“A lot of times that would mean that the court came in, and even though an agency substantiated it a court, didn’t feel there was sufficient evidence to move forward,” she says.
Tanata says drug addicted parents need resources that emphasize treatment over punishment.
"Parents need to not be afraid that if they have an issue, that if they come forward or try to seek help, that they are automatically going to have their children removed."