A new study has found that the number of newborn babies in the U.S. who suffer withdrawal because their mothers take opioids has increased by a factor of five since 2000.
Published in the Journal of Perinatology, the research focused on the rate of American babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). From 2009 to 2012, the national NAS rate rose from 3.4 per 1,000 births to 5.8 per 1,000 births. In 2012, a total of 21,732 babies suffered the effects of opioid withdrawal. A separate study found that between 2000 and 2009, the rate of NAS among American babies tripled.
“I think the scope of the problem is staggering,” said study leader Dr. Stephen Patrick. “It really calls into question, are we using these opioid prescriptions too much and should we be using them more appropriately in pregnant women.”
The CDC recently released a study that found a high painkiller prescription rate among American women of reproductive age. Babies who are born dependent on painkillers face serious health problems. These include respiratory issues, insomnia, feeding difficulties, tremors, behavioral problems, and seizures, according to some reports.
“This is a complex issue and typically it begins even before pregnancy,” Patrick said. “I think we have to have a broad view of opioid use in the U.S. and respond with public health approaches.”
Are you or someone you care for dependent on opioids? See if you qualify for Segal Institute’s clinical research studies on opioid dependence and withdrawal today!