Newborn babies are coming into the world suffering from excruciating opioid withdrawals due to the rising rates of heroin and painkiller abuse nationwide.
Officials from the Arizona Department of Health Services revealed the rate of babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) increased by 224 percent between 2008 and 2015. Additionally, officials said the rate of babies who are generally exposed to narcotics while in the womb spiked in the state by 219 percent between 2008 and 2014, reports Tuscon.com.
Doctors are still unsure what the lifetime repercussions of NAS may be for the infants, but short-term symptoms include seizures, trouble feeding, excessive crying, diarrhea and rapid breathing.
“They go through the same withdrawals that an adult would go through, except they’re not able to verbalize what that pain is,” Pat Brown, manager of the newborn intensive care unit at Tuscon Medical Center, told Tuscon.com.
The numbers reflect the rising rate of heroin abuse in the U.S. and the general prevalence of prescription opioids in American households. More Americans are taking prescription painkillers than ever before, despite record heroin abuse and rising overdose death rates connected to opioids.
Arizona is not the only state experiencing rising rates of NAS related to opioids. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services revealed the rate of babies born exposed to opioids more than quadrupled over the past decade. Officials recorded 598 babies born with an opioid addiction in 2015, up from 142 cases in 2006. In Missouri, at least eight-in-1,000 babies born will now suffer opioid withdrawals, an increase of 538 percent since 2006.
Ohio is also experiencing rising levels of NAS, which are especially high in the Cincinnati region. Officials at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center report a 14-fold increase in the number of newborns suffering from heroin or other opioid related withdrawals since 2009 at hospitals in the Greater Cincinnati area. Roughly 3.3 percent of babies born in the region are exposed to opioids while in the womb.
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