Number of Babies Born Addicted to Painkillers Has Tripled in the Last Decade

Back in the '80s and '90s hospitals saw a surge in babies born addicted to crack, but the last decade has been all about babies born addicted to painkillers.

Babies who are hooked on Vicodin or Oxycontin experience neonatal abstinence syndrome. It's the same for babies addicted to heroin, but prescription drug abuse is on the rise.

The number of pregnant women who used or abused narcotic painkillers increased fivefold from 2000 to 2009, his study found. These mothers now account for 5.6 out of 1,000 hospital births a year, the study found.

As CDC researcher Andreea Creanga notes, it's not that more pregnant women are using drugs — it's that more of the pregnant women who use drugs are using prescription painkillers.

Babies born addicted to these drugs are treated with methadone for withdrawal symptoms. In the meantime, they cry a lot and are generally miserable. The study's author Stephen Patrick describes it "like a colicky baby times 10."

There is some speculation that pregnant women don't realize prescription drugs can hurt their fetuses, since the drugs are legal. But painkillers are prescribed for use with pain, not for good times. And not to be a total killjoy, but the number of overdoses from prescription pain meds also tripled (from 1991 to 2007). Pregnant or not, be careful with your opiates.

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