A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that babies who are born suffering from withdrawal symptoms of prescription painkillers, due to their mothers’ use during pregnancy, has more than tripled in the U.S. during the period of 2000 to 2009. That translates to an estimated one infant born each hour with opioid withdrawal symptoms, or 13,500 babies per year.
Over that same period of time, women using opioid pain relievers (e.g. Oxycontin) during pregnancy nearly quintupled, and health-care costs, particularly relating to the care of drug-exposed infants being cared for in neonatal intensive care wards, increased from $190 million annually, to $720 million annually.
This study does not take into account whether the women using the opioids are doing so for medical reasons, as prescribed by their doctor, or whether they are addicted mothers who are using the opioids illicitly. However, it has been noted that the misuse of prescription drugs has risen in tandem with a significant increase in legitimate pain medication prescriptions.
The researchers of this study mined a database which contained information on millions of hospital discharges in thousands of hospitals in 44 states from 2000 to 2009. They discovered that infant opioid withdrawal appears to disproportionately affect children of low income families: 78% of mothers who gave birth to children who suffered symptoms of withdrawal were on Medicaid. An estimated 60-80% of babies exposed to chronic opioid use while in utero will develop neonatal abstinence syndrome, which is much like the symptoms that adults experience while going through drug withdrawal.
Drug exposed babies may experience common symptoms such as difficulty with feeding, difficulty breathing, difficulty sleeping, and irritability. They are also three times as likely to have a low birth weight, which is linked to developmental problems.
We know that the number of men who use and/or abuse prescription pain medications is high in the U.S., but this trend of drug-dependent or drug-addicted mothers does bring to our attention an even more serious and significant issue which needs to be addressed and resolved. When we bear the responsibility of bringing a child into this world, don’t we owe it to them to give them every opportunity for a healthy life? It is impossible to imagine what a newborn must feel like to endure withdrawal symptoms immediately upon birth.
Infratonic Therapy has been found by many people to be extremely helpful in alleviating or eradicating many health issues and challenges, including inflammation and pain. Some people have also found it very helpful in assisting with the detox process. Infratonic Therapy could be very useful in helping women who are legitimately taking prescription pain relievers to alleviate their pain, as well as their dependence on prescription medications. Perhaps it would also be useful in accelerating the detox/recovery rate for those newborns who are born with neonatal abstinence syndrome.
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