As Opioid Use Increases,
More Newborns Suffer

December 14, 2016 • United States

A new study reveals the rapidly increasing number of newborns struggling with sickness and discomfort when they are no longer exposed to the opioids their mothers were consuming. The condition is called Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) – in other words, there’s a particular set of symptoms they suffer when they are suddenly abstinent (no longer exposed to drugs) after birth. Not only are more babies suffering, but the number of NAS-afflicted rural-born babies is growing far faster than the number of urban-born infants.

With NAS, these tiny, helpless babies go through the same withdrawal phenomena that their mothers would go through if they quit consuming drugs. They scream with pain, they shake and tremble, they suffer from such diarrhea and vomiting that their young lives are at risk from dehydration. But for them, there is no understanding of the reason for this sickness or a concept that there will ever be an end to the pain.

Hospitals in areas with high levels of opioid use and addiction have added personnel and beds to special rooms where these traumatized infants can be calmed. Volunteers are brought in to rock these little tykes for hours in hopes of helping them catch a little sleep.

An Increase of More Than 600

This new study in JAMA Pediatrics reported that in rural areas, the incidence of NAS increased an incredible 625% between 2004 and 2013. In 2004, only 1.2 rural births per thousand suffered from NAS. But in 2013, 7.5 births per 1000 suffered this way.

Two graphs show the increase in neonatal abstinence syndrome among urban and rural babies.

In urban areas, there was also a dramatic increase of more than 340%. In 2004, urban areas saw the slightly higher rate of 1.4 cases of NAS per 1000 urban births, which increased to 4.8 NAS births per 1000 in 2013.

No Woman Intends to Put a Baby Through this Suffering

It would be easy to judge a woman who subjects her baby to this sickness. But in fact, no woman – or man – wants to be an addict. No one starts abusing painkillers with the plan of becoming addicted. Once they do become addicted, they continue drug use out of desperation, fear of the intense sickness that ensues during withdrawal and because the degradation that accompanies addiction often robs them of all hope and sense of worth.

Because of the possibility of bearing a baby with NAS, it’s vital that any woman of child-bearing years be helped to overcome her addiction before she can get pregnant. Risky, unprotected sex is common among the addicted of both genders.

For a new mother, withdrawal may just last five days to a week, but a newborn may need a hospital stay of weeks to be gradually weaned from addictive substances. If you care about a woman of child-bearing years who is struggling with her own addiction, call Narconon today to get help and save a tiny baby from this dreadful and painful start to their new lives.
Call 1-800-775-8750 today



Karen Hadley

For more than a decade, Karen has been researching and writing about drug trafficking, drug abuse, addiction and recovery. She has also studied and written about policy issues related to drug treatment.