Addiction to Prescription Drugs Affecting more Newborns Recently: Report

By Renee Anderson, Parent Herald May 14, 06:24 am
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The number of babies born addicted to prescription drugs in Tennessee has gone up considerably in the recent past, according to reports from children's hospitals across the state.

The Associated Press reports that the East Tennessee Children's Hospital in Knoxville, Tenn., is expecting 320 babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) this year, compared to 33 in 2008.

Neonatal abstinence syndrome is the name given to describe a wide range of health problems found among the newborns of women taking addictive illegal or prescription drugs during pregnancy. Constant exposure to the drug while in the mother's womb makes the baby addicted to it. Following birth, when the baby fails to get the drug, it starts showing symptoms of withdrawal.  

Some of the symptoms include feeding problems, diarrhea, fever, vomiting, sweating, seizures, non-stop crying, poor weight gain and problems related to sleep. Morphine and methadone are generally administered to infants to treat their withdrawal symptoms. According to Medline Plus, a website of National Institute of Health, maternal consumption of alcohol during pregnancy can also increase the risk of giving birth to a baby with the condition. 

Similar to Tennessee, children's hospitals in Ohio found a significant number of newborns born in the state with an addiction to the prescription painkiller Percocet, Zanesville Times Recorder. com reported. According to reports, the rate of babies born with the addiction went up from 36 per 1,000 births in 2012 to 46 per 1,000 early this year.

The current findings support a 2012 study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Researchers at the University of Michigan found that prevalence of neonatal abstinence syndrome is related to maternal opiate use going up from 1.20 per 1,00 births in 2000 to 3.39 per 1,000 in 2009, and health care expenditures in the country for treating the condition shooting up from $39,400 to $53,400 during the same period. Majority of the expenditures were taken by state Medicaid programs.  The researchers estimated a total of 13,539 babies in the country having the condition in 2009. Illegal sales of the drugs and excess dependence to relieve chronic pain were found to be playing some major roles in the occurrence. 

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