The number of newborn infants in the USA who are suffering from drug withdrawal due to maternal drug abuse during pregnancy has gone up considerably, nearly quadrupling since 2004 according to researchers. Neonatal abstinence syndrome is the name for the condition that these newborns suffer from and the condition can leave the helpless babies in pain and suffering other physical and psychological symptoms. When a pregnant woman takes prescription narcotic medications during pregnancy the unborn fetus can develop an addiction inside the womb, especially if these drugs are used for an extended period or during certain times in the gestational period. In 2004 7 out of every 1,000 babies who were admitted to a NICU unit were affected by neonatal abstinence syndrome. By the year 2013 the rate had increased to 27 out of every 1,000 infants admitted to a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
Researchers at Baylor University Medical Center studied the rates of neonatal abstinence syndrome and drug withdrawal among newborns in the United States for a time period that covers over a decade. The increase in numbers is alarming. Another recent study showed that the use of prescription narcotic drugs during pregnancy is actually more common than suspected. Some of the women used the narcotics under the supervision of a physician while others used these drugs without any medical supervision and no legitimate prescription. According to Dr. Stephen Patrick “I was surprised by the number of women prescribed opioid pain relievers in pregnancy. I was also surprised by how commonly women smoked in pregnancy, and how much that increased the risk of neonatal abstinence syndrome among those who also used opioid pain relievers in pregnancy.”