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Increase of the drug-affected newborns, driven by a national opioid use

CHICAGO – AN increase from the U. S infants born with symptoms of withdrawal from heroin or strong prescription painkillers, is largely driven by the increase of drug use among women in the countryside, a new study found.

The study, led by University of Michigan researchers, estimates that about 21 percent of the newborns in the rural counties had withdrawal symptoms in 2013, up from 13 percent in 2004.

Newborns whose mothers use of these medications during pregnancy have an increased risk of seizures, excessive crying, problems with breathing, sleeping and feeding and other withdrawal symptoms. Treatment sometimes includes methadone and babies may need to be admitted in the hospital for weeks or months.

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The study shows the rate for the relevant rural newborns climbed six-fold of approximately 1 per 1000 births in 2004, nearly 8 per 1000 births in 2013. On the other hand, in urban areas the percentage rose from 1 per 1,000 to 5 per 1,000 births. The rates correspond with the women is the use of opiates during the pregnancy. This includes the use or abuse of oxycodone and other prescription opioid analgesics, and the use of illegal drugs.

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

Previous studies also showed an increase nationwide, and other data show that in rural areas, have been hit hard by the U.S. opioid epidemic.

The new study shows that there is an urgent need for more programs to make it easier for rural women to obtain services for the prevention and treatment for addiction, the researchers said.

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