The New York Times (5/1, D6, Belluck, Subscription Publication) reports, “The fast-growing abuse of prescription drugs has reached maternity wards in hospitals across the country, with the number of pregnant women addicted to opiate drugs — and the number of babies born experiencing withdrawal symptoms — rising sharply over the last decade.” Researchers “looked at two large databases that included a representative sample of patients from across the country and found that the number of pregnant mothers using opiate drugs jumped fivefold from 2000 to 2009.” The investigators found that “the number of infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome nearly tripled in the same period.”
USA Today (5/1, Szabo) reports that approximately “3.4 of every 1,000 infants born in a hospital in 2009 suffered from” neonatal abstinence syndrome, according to the study published online April 30 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. CDC researcher Andreea Creanga said, “The prevalence of drug use among pregnant women hasn’t changed since the early 2000s.” However, “the types of drugs that women are using is changing.”
The AP (5/1, Tanner) reports that altogether, “more than 13,000 US infants were affected in 2009, the researchers estimated.”
The Los Angeles Times (5/1, Kaplan) “Booster Shots” blog reports, “According to the federal data, 5.63 out of every 1,000 mothers who gave birth in a hospital in 2009 were addicted to opiates, up from 1.20 per 1,000 in 2000, the study found. Experts estimate that 60% to 80% of babies exposed to heroin or methadone in utero wind up addicted themselves.”
Bloomberg News (5/1, Ostrow) reports, “Newborns dependent on opiates were more likely to have increased irritability, tremors, respiratory problems, feeding issues and seizures and be born at low birth weight, the study showed.”
The CNN (5/1, Smith) “The Chart” blog reports, “The average hospital stay for a baby born withdrawing from painkillers is 16 days, according to the JAMA study, and 77% of the time, babies with NAS were charged under state Medicaid programs.”
Also covering the story were the Detroit Free Press (5/1, Erb), Reuters (5/1, Pittman), HealthDay (5/1, Mann), WebMD (5/1, Rubin),BBC News (5/1), and MedPage Today (5/1, Fiore).
— “Abuse of Opiates Soars in Pregnant Women,”Pam Belluck , The New York Times, April 30 , 2012.