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Yale researcher finds alarming rise in child fentanyl deaths nationwide

Research shows alarming rise in children dying from fentanyl poisoning
Research shows alarming rise in children dying from fentanyl poisoning 02:16

NEW YORK -- There's been an alarming increase in the number of children dying from fentanyl poisoning. 

More than 5,000 kids have died from fentanyl in the U.S. since 1999. Most are teenagers, but researchers say babies and toddlers are increasingly at risk. 

In 2021, 133 kids younger than 5 died from fentanyl in the U.S. Forty were not even 1 year old. 

The death of 1-year-old Nicholas Dominici was the latest on a growing list of tragedies. 

"It is definitely getting worse," said Julie Gaither, a pediatrics professor at Yale University. 

Gaither analyzed CDC data for a recent study and found fentanyl deaths in kids under 5 jumped 590% from 2018 to 2021. 

"I think it's because these are the most vulnerable individuals. It takes a very, very tiny amount to kill a small child," said Gaither. 

Adams blasts fentanyl problem after Bronx day care death 08:37

According to the NYPD, police searched the Bronx day care where Dominici died and found a kilo press, a machine often used to package drugs. 

Investigators said they've been finding fentanyl at drug packaging mills across the city, including one discovered last year in queens

The DEA's New York division said it seized more than 2,000 lbs. of fentanyl powder in 2022. That's about 15% of the fentanyl powder seized by the DEA nationwide. 

"It's coming here because it's a trans-shipment point. It's the hub of the northeast, but it's also being pressed into pills here in the city," said Special Agend Frank Tarentino, with the DEA's New York division. 

"The fentanyl comes in from Mexico. It's bagged up here in New York because New York is a central importation spot for it, and then it goes out all over the country," said Bridget Brennan, a special narcotics prosecutor for New York City

Researchers said the majority of fentanyl poisonings in kids happen in the child's own home. 

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