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Baby Revived Twice Over Fentanyl Exposure; What Is Fentanyl?

Update Date: Jan 04, 2017 08:30 AM EST

A 10-month-old baby in Massachusetts nearly lost her life after being exposed to fentanyl. Doctors revived her twice after she stopped breathing as she was the latest victim of an opioid epidemic that has been blamed for hundreds of deaths in the state.

Police officers arrived at the Methuen residence in the early afternoon of December 31 after receiving a report of a child not breathing. Authorities, who responded to the house, took the baby to the hospital where she was revived twice.

She was airlifted to Tufts Medical Center in Boston, where she's now in a stable condition. Tests show the baby had the potent synthetic opioid fentanyl in her system. The Department of Children and Families has taken the baby into its custody and a probe has been initiated.

"The opioid epidemic knows no boundaries," Stephen Zanni, Methuen Mayor, said in a release as reported by CBS News"We must continue to be vigilant in ensuring that children do not have access to harmful substances and to do everything we can to fight the disease of addiction," he added.

What Is Fentanyl?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid analgesic that is similar to morphine. However, fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more powerful and usually used to treat patients with severe pain.

Over the past years, many countries across the globe have struggled with opioid abuse. Now, it has been dubbed as an epidemic since it's affecting many individuals across the globe. In fact, fentanyl has taken over heroin as a primary cause of fatal overdoses in 2016.

Fentanyl Killed Thousands In 2016

Fentanyl is an incredibly potent synthetic opioid usually prescribed for pain management. However, in the recent years, illegal manufacturing of fentanyl soared and as a result, there was a drastic increase in the number of drug overdose deaths, Vox reports.

In 2010, about 17,094 people died from an opioid-induced drug overdose and in 2014, the number nearly doubled to 31,271 deaths.

Fentanyl-related deaths in 2016, however, has spurred panic and worry not only among authorities but also families in the United States. Now, even Canada faces a significant increase of drug overdose deaths this year.

New York's Pix11 reports that popular music icon, Prince, was found death inside an elevator in April, with an autopsy showing he died from accidental overdose of fentanyl. In Long Island alone, at least 220 people died from fentanyl overdoses in 2016.

Moreover, British Columbia in Canada reports about 488 illicit drug overdose deaths between January and August 2016 alone. That compares to an overall 505 reported drug overdose deaths in B.C. in 2015.

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