Prescription opiate addictions affecting astonishing number of newborns
Major concern is growing over newborn babies who spend their first days of life in excruciating pain. These babies are experiencing tremors, excessive sweating, stiff limbs, vomiting and even seizures.
The cause of these symptoms are their mother’s addiction to prescription opiates during pregnancy, and the babies are being born literally strung out on drugs such as morphine, codeine, methadone and oxycodone.
A flood of non-medical use or abuse of prescription medications over the last few years has quickly become the most lethal drug addiction across the U.S.A., causing more overdose deaths than heroin and cocaine combined. And now newborn babies are also suffering the sometimes lethal effects of these addictions.
The babies affected by this condition known as neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), have to go through a medically supervised detoxification a few days after being born, and the process is incredibly painful.
Across the U.S. in 2009, an estimated 13,539 babies were born addicted to drugs their mothers were taking during pregnancy. One hospital in the state of Tennessee reported 35 cases of NAS in 2008 and by last year, the hospital reported 287 cases – an increase of more than 800%.
However, many states across the U.S. and around the world do not have systems in place to correctly document the number of NAS cases each year, which is why officials believe that their estimate of yearly cases is inaccurate, and that the number is growing rapidly – in line with the steady increase of women addicted to prescription medications.
The incredibly sad part of this situation is that it is easily preventable. People around the world need to be better educated on the effects of taking these drugs during pregnancy. It’s widely accepted that smoking and drinking during pregnancy is prohibited, and it needs to be made clear that while these medications may not produce long-term defects in babies – they are unnecessarily causing severe pain and trauma to the babies in their first days of life.