West Virginia Finds Way To Fight Opioid Addiction During Pregnancy

By Collie Lane, Parent Herald January 04, 06:17 am
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Opioid abuse should be stopped. Spare the babies.
(Photo : John Moore/Getty Images)

A law has been passed to cut the rise of babies born with drug withdrawal syndrome in West Virginia. This occurred due to the young ones' exposure to heroin or painkillers while in the womb of their mothers. The law provides pregnant women priority to get substance abuse treatment under Medicaid.

The rate of drug-dependent pregnant women in West Virginia has increased, resulting in more births of babies with opioid withdrawal. In West Virginia, 33.4 of every 1,000 babies born went through withdrawal symptoms in 2013, the STAT News has learned.

The babies were born by pregnant women who use medication such as painkillers hydrocodone and oxycodone, and illegal narcotic heroin. The drugs can be passed on to the growing fetus.

Babies born under such condition can have signs and symptoms including feeding difficulties, vomiting, sweating and seizures. The worst is that they might be born premature or will require more expensive and specialized medications in an intensive care unit.

The bad condition of the babies can occur also when pregnant moms use methadone to treat an addiction to opioid. Although it is approved to lessen withdrawal symptoms for grownups, methadone can still be addictive.

In response to the issue, a law has been passed, which will give pregnant women a priority access to programs for drug abuse treatment. The state also requires specialized training for health officials and doctors who prescribe drugs and opioid.

Meanwhile, West Virginia became the latest state to tackle the issue on opioid abuse among pregnant women, the Washington Examiner has learned. The report added the law aims to cut the rising rate of babies born with opioid withdrawal, which can lead to long and expensive hospital confinements.

Aside from West Virginia, there are other 12 states that have taken the same approach to deter drug abuse among pregnant women. Others took different approaches such as focusing on criminal charges.

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