Report Finds Dramatic Increase in Proportion of Babies Born Dependent on Opioids

A new government report finds a dramatic increase in the proportion of babies born dependent on opioid drugs, such as heroin or prescription pain relievers. Between 2000 and 2009 the number of infants born to women who had used opioids increased nearly fivefold annually–from 1.19 to 5.63 per 1,000 hospital births.

The report also found that an annual average of about 21,000 pregnant women ages 15 to 44 misused opioids in the past month, according to HealthDay.

Full story of born babies dependent on opioids at drugfree.org

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Inquiry Looks at Compliance With Federal Law Protecting Drug-Dependent Newborns

A U.S. House committee is launching an inquiry into the federal government’s enforcement of a law designed to protect drug-dependent newborns.

The inquiry, launched by Representative John Kline of Minnesota, is in response to aReuters investigation that found 110 cases of babies and toddlers whose mothers used opioids during pregnancy, and later died preventable deaths.

In each case, the babies recovered enough to be discharged from the hospital, but were sent home to families not equipped to care for them.

The number of babies treated for the drug-withdrawal syndrome known as neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) has almost quadrupled in the last decade, according to a last year.

Full story of inquiry into drug-dependent newborns at drugfree.org

High Prescribing Rates Likely Factor in Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Increase: Expert

High prescribing rates of opioid painkillers are likely a factor in the increase in neonatal abstinence syndrome, according to the head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Dr. Nora Volkow wrote in this week’s British Medical Journal that between 2000 and 2009, the incidence of neonatal abstinence syndrome among newborns increased from 1.2 to 3.4 per 1,000 live births.

An estimated 14 percent to 22 percent of pregnant women in the United States are prescribed opioid painkillers, HealthDay reports. There have been reports of an increase in the rate of painkiller abuse among pregnant women, the article notes.

Babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome undergo withdrawal from the addictive drugs their mothers took during pregnancy, such as oxycodone, morphine or hydrocodone. The syndrome affected seven babies for every 1,000 admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit in 2004. That number jumped to 27 infants per 1,000 by 2013.

Full story of neonatal abstinence syndrome increase at drugfree.org

Two Senators Ask Federal Government to Help Drug-Dependent Newborns

Two U.S. senators are asking the federal government to address the growing problem of drug-dependent newborns, Reuters reports. They say thousands of infants are born each year to mothers who used opioids during pregnancy.

Senator Robert Casey of Pennsylvania called for hearings on why a federal law that directs states to protect drug-dependent newborns is not being enforced. Senator Charles Schumer of New York wants the Obama Administration to increase funding to help drug-dependent babies.

An investigation by Reuters found 110 babies and toddlers whose mothers used opioids during pregnancies and who died under preventable circumstances. In each case, the babies recovered enough to be discharged from the hospital, but were sent home to families not equipped to care for them.

Full story of Federal government to help drug-dependent newborns at drugfree.org