The number of U.S. babies born with signs of opiate drug withdrawal has tripled in a decade, according to a study released online today.
The uptick in babies born with drug withdrawal comes because of a surge in pregnant women’s use of legal and illegal narcotics, including Vicodin, OxyContin and heroin, researchers say. It is the first national study of the problem, according to the Associated Press.
In March I wrote about the trend in Southwest Virginia and about how Roanoke stands out as the Virginia locale with the second-highest number of drug-dependent newborns reported to social services during the past two years.
Here’s more from the Associated Press story:
The number of newborns with withdrawal symptoms increased from a little more than 1 per 1,000 babies sent home from the hospital in 2000 to more than 3 per 1,000 in 2009, the study found. More than 13,000 U.S. infants were affected in 2009, the researchers estimated. …
Weaning infants from these drugs can take weeks or months and often requires a lengthy stay in intensive care units. Hospital charges for treating these newborns soared from $190 million to $720 million between 2000 and 2009, the study found.
The study was released online in the Journal of the American Medical Association.