Dr. Gideon Koren, who holds the Ivey Chair in Molecular Toxicology at Western, zeroed in on the danger after investigating the death of a two year old boy following a relatively easy operation to remove his tonsils.
Koren is a pediatrics professor at both Western and the University of Toronto, and the Director of the Motherisk program at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. Enlarged tonsils are usually treated with antibiotics, but Koren says tonsillectomies are still performed in the case of sleep apnea, where the child stops breathing while asleep.
In this particular case, the toddler had a history of snoring and sleep-study-confirmed sleep apnea. He was taken to an outpatient clinic, had the operation, and was taken home. The mother was given syrup of codeine and instructed how to administer it to her child for pain relief. On the second night after surgery, the child developed a fever and wheezing, and was found dead the next morning. Tests later showed the mother had given the proper dosage, and yet the child's body was found to have high levels of morphine. The coroner asked Koren to look at the case.
"The sudden death of a healthy child was quite sobering because tonsillectomies are done every day, all over North America," says Koren. "And more and more of them are done on an outpatient basis, with the child going home the same day." The child was found to have the ultra-rapid metabolism genotype which causes the body to metabolize codeine at a faster rate, producing significantly higher amounts of morphine.
Last year Koren published research showing how mothers who are given codeine for pain following childbirth, can pass toxic levels of morphine to their babies though their breastmilk, if they carry this genotype. It's estimated just over one per-cent of Caucasians carry this gene, but the incidence could be as high as 30% in those of African origin.
Koren has another concern about giving codeine to children following a tonsillectomy for sleep apnea. "If the apnea doesn't go away, codeine will also suppress the child's breathing. This demonstrates the need to keep children in hospital under surveillance for at least 24 hours to see if the apnea persists."
Western graduate student Catherine Ciszkowski co-authored the paper with Koren. The Ivey Chair in Molecular Toxicology studies why drugs can be safe for most people, and yet life-threatening to some, and tries to find ways to predict those situations.
Kathy Wallis | EurekAlert!
NIH scientists describe potential antibody treatment for multidrug-resistant K. pneumoniae
14.03.2018 | NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Researchers identify key step in viral replication
13.03.2018 | University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.
In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...
Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...
On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...
The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...
At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.
When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...
19.03.2018 | Event News
16.03.2018 | Event News
13.03.2018 | Event News
19.03.2018 | Event News
19.03.2018 | Information Technology
19.03.2018 | Interdisciplinary Research