Opi­oid use in ru­ral ar­eas in­creas­ingly hurts ba­bies

Rates cor­re­spond with tak­ing of heroin, painkillers dur­ing preg­nancy

The Denver Post - - NEWS NATION & WORLD - By Lindsey Tan­ner

chicago» A surge in U.S in­fants born with symp­toms of with­drawal from heroin or strong pre­scrip­tion painkillers is driven largely by ris­ing drug use among women in ru­ral ar­eas, a new study found.

The prob­lem in ur­ban and ru­ral ar­eas was about the same in 2004 — about one in 1,000 births were af­fected. But by 2013, the ru­ral rate had climbed to al­most eight in 1,000. In ur­ban ar­eas, it reached five per 1,000 births.

The rates cor­re­spond with women’s use of opi­oid drugs dur­ing preg­nancy. This in- cludes use or mis­use of oxy­codone and other pre­scrip­tion opi­oid painkillers and use of il­le­gal nar­cotics.

New­borns whose moth­ers use these drugs dur­ing preg­nancy are at risk for seizures, ex­ces­sive cry­ing, prob­lems with breath­ing, sleep­ing and feed­ing and other with­drawal symp­toms.

Treat­ment some­times in­cludes methadone, and ba­bies may need to be hos­pi­tal­ized for weeks or months.

The study, led by Univer­sity of Michi­gan re­searchers, found that about 21 per­cent of U.S new­borns with with­drawal symp­toms in 2013 were from ru­ral coun­ties, up from 13 per­cent in 2004.

To come up with their es­ti­mate, the re­searchers an­a­lyzed a data set of U.S. hos­pi­tal dis­charges com­piled by the gov­ern­ment’s Agency for Health­care Re­search and Qual­ity. The results were pub­lished Mon­day in JAMA Pe­di­atrics.

Ear­lier stud­ies also found an in­crease na­tion­wide, and other data show ru­ral ar­eas have been hard hit by the U.S. opi­oid epi­demic. The new study shows there’s an ur­gent need for more pro­grams to make it eas­ier for women in ru­ral ar­eas to ob­tain preven­tion ser­vices and treat­ment for ad­dic­tion, the re­searchers said.

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