Prescription Drug Addicted Babies

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According to a recent paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association, about 13,000 babies born in the United States every year are addicted to prescription drugs—specifically, to prescription opioid painkillers such as oxycontin and hydrocodone (i.e., Vicodin).

Withdrawal Syndrome in Babies

Infants born addicted to drugs will shortly go into withdrawal after leaving the womb. By all indications, they experience much—if not all—of the same symptoms as their mothers or other addicts do, but they lack the voice to say so.

Consequently, doctors report withdrawal symptoms of drug-addicted babies as including:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Tremors
  • Shaking
  • Fevers
  • Sweating
  • Excessive irritability and crying

The paper in the Journal also cited that drug-addicted babies spend a significantly longer amount of time in the hospital following birth—measured in weeks or months, as opposed to days—at very high costs.

Furthermore, in another study cited by NBC News, it was found that a full 10 percent of all babies born in one U.S. state along the eastern seaboard had prescription drugs in their systems.

Addicted Mom's Catch-22

When women who are battling a drug addiction to an opioid learn they are pregnant, their first thought is to get clean. But if it were that easy, there might not be a drug problem in the first place. Unfortunately, doctors often tell these women that going cold turkey can cause a miscarriage, so they begin something like a methadone maintenance program, only to assure that their child will be born addicted to methadone.

While babies addicted to prescription drugs can be successfully treated, there is currently no data available that can tell doctors whether these children are at higher risk for developing certain problems as they get older.

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