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Epidemic of Pain Killer Addicted Pregnant Women

May 6, 2012
Plain English Version

A  new study said pregnant women were abusing painkilling drugs called opiates, causing babies to be born with symptoms of drug withdrawal. It says every hour a baby is born to a prescription drug addicted mother, about 135,000 babies a year.

An expert said the use of opiates by pregnant women has the potential to become a national issue. “People who might not have used heroin are more likely to use prescription opiates.” These drugs include Vicodin, OxyContin and Percocet.

The babies can experience seizures, breathing problems, dehydration, feeding problems, tremors and irritability. They are treated with methadone or morphine to wean them from the drugs. Many babies are in the hospital for weeks.

Doctors are trying different treatments such as soothing and cuddling the babies in a darkened room. However, giving small doses of the same drugs used by the mother seems to work better. Unfortunately, it is very easy to overdose babies, and there have been some deaths.

The experts agree that it is best to deal with a woman’s prescription drug addiction before she becomes pregnant.

The New York Times

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