Newborns Endangered by Pain Medication Addiction
The number of babies in the U.S. who are born addicted to opiates such as Vicodin and Oxycontin tripled between 2000 and 2009 to more than 13,500 babies per year, according to a study led by Dr. Stephen Patrick, a fellow in neonatal-perinatal medicine at the University of Michigan. The use of prescription pain medications among pregnant women increased five-fold during the same period.
Babies born to mothers who are addicted to opiates may have complications including:
l Low birth weight
l Difficulty breathing and eating
Some babies born under these circumstances must be given methadone or morphine to wean them off the opiates, which is a dangerous and delicate process. Experts say the rise in opiate use among young pregnant women — 16 percent of all pregnant teens and 8 percent of pregnant women ages 18 to 25 — constitutes a public health emergency in the U.S.
The study was published in the May 1, 2012, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.