Jul 31, 2012

Study finds "growing epidemic" of opiate dependence among newborns

A recent article in the The Huffington Post, "More Babies Born Addicted To Painkillers, Multiple Reports Show Growing Epidemic," describes the increase in opiate use during pregnancy and newborns experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

"In the past decade, the number of babies born addicted to opiates has tripled. An April study found that in American hospitals, roughly one baby is born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) per hour, meaning they became addicted to drugs in utero and experienced withdrawal when they were born. [...] symptoms of NAS include 'seizures and tremors, respiratory distress, vomiting and an inability to eat without becoming sick.' It can take weeks, sometimes months, for infants to go through withdrawal."

Click here for the full article. 

Related articles:
"Abuse of Opiates Soars in Pregnant Women" (New York Times, April 30, 2012)
"The Dilemma of the Pregnant Addict"  (New York Times, May 1, 2012)

"Newborns Addicted to Painkillers: Study Finds Troubling Spike in Cases" (PBS Newshour, May 1, 2012)


Dr. Stephen W. Patrick: "Often in our health system, we react to problems. And I think that this study calls for a public health approach. Many states are already doing things to limit abuses of opiates, such as registries of prescriptions that are written, so that we can tell if someone is doctor-shopping, or going from one doctor to another, to get the same opiate prescription. It's things like these and strategies to limit opiate exposure that will prevent this problem way before it becomes an issue, especially in our newborns."

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