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The Rate of Babies Born Addicted to Opioids Skyrockets

In the 1970s, there was a surge of babies born who were addicted to heroin, especially in cities with a high rate of drug-addiction like Trenton, Newark and Philadelphia. Today, there has been a similar surge in babies born addicted to drugs, only this time, the babies are addicted to opioids. The problem particularly affects those born in rural areas, with JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) reporting that drug-dependent newborns are more common – disproportionately – in rural parts of the country.

By the Numbers: Rates of Drug-Dependent Newborns Increases

According to an article in The New York Times, which cited data from the JAMA study linked to above, the number of newborns born dependent on drugs in rural counties increased sevenfold between the years of 2004 and 2013. Another study reports that hospital costs associated with treating addicted newborns rose to $1.5 billion in 2013. In 2009, the costs were $723 million. In addition to these harrowing statistics, the fact that hospitals are often without enough resources to treat drug-dependent newborns compounds the tragedy.

Where – and Why – Are Babies Born Dependent to Drugs?

The Times article cited above states that the rates of neonatal abstinence syndrome – caused by drug dependence and characterized by behaviors like seizures and breathing problems – are highest in states like Maine, Vermont, and Virginia.

The cause for the majority of cases involving babies born addicted to drugs is the use of opioids during pregnancy, although it should be noted that a number of drugs (both prescription and non-prescription) can cause drug dependence in newborns; these include antidepressants.

What’s scary is that despite the fact that opioids are known to be highly addictive and contribute to newborn addition when taken by pregnant women, doctors continue to prescribe these drugs to women who are pregnant. In fact, more than 40 percent of women in Utah who are on Medicaid are prescribed opioids during pregnancy for back pain, and about 35 percent of women on Medicaid in Idaho experience the same. The roots of the problem of newborn drug dependence are mothers’ addictions to drugs like opioids. What can be done to alleviate this?

A Medical Malpractice Law Firm Who Cares About You

At the law firm of Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C., we believe that doctors should not give out prescription painkillers indiscriminately, and that an extremely high level of care needs to be exercised when prescribing care for you women during their child bearing years. In fact, if the doctor has not explored all viable alternatives, opioids should be avoided in order to reduce the risk of addiction and fetal dependence.

If you or a loved one has given birth to a child addicted to drugs and believe that a negligently prescribed opioids, please contact our law office today.

Contact us for your consultation (215) 567-3500