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Babies Born in Withdrawal Have Increased Three Times in Recent Years

on Tuesday, 01 May 2012. Posted in Breaking News, Prescription Drugs

opiate-addicted mothers

The number of babies born in the United States with signs of drug withdrawal have tripled in the last decade because there are more pregnant women using narcotics. According to, the rate of infants born with withdrawal symptoms reached about one every hour in 2009.

Dr. Stephen Patrick of the University of Michigan's division of neonatal-perinatal medicine said, "We found that from 2000 to 2009, the number of babies having drug withdrawal increased by three times." babies in withdrawal, called neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), commonly show irritability, difficulty feeding, difficulty breathing, and low birth weight. In 2009, at least 1,057 babies were born in Canada with NAS, an 18% increase over the previous year.

Not all babies born to opiate-addicted mothers showed symptoms of withdrawal, but the hospital length of stay for newborns with NAS averaged 16 days. The study's authors wrote, "In conclusion, newborns with NAS experience longer, often medically complex and costly hospitalizations." Many of these children are on Medicaid, and that cost is passed on to the taxpayer.

Many of these opiate-addicted mothers were legitimately taking pain-relieving opiates prescribed to them. Many believe that opiates are over-prescribed, and they agree we need to identify some alternatives for these chronic pain patients that become pregnant. Some argue that these mothers need to start methadone treatment early in their pregnancy, as well as be monitored for alcohol use and be provided with psychiatric care.

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