More Babies Born Addicted to Painkillers

A new report from the Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) reveals a surprising fact: more babies are being born with neonatal abstinence syndrome, where they go through withdrawal from addictive painkillers (oxycodone, morphine, and hydrocodone) that their moms took during pregnancy.

Babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome often experience "severe symptoms...within the first two weeks of life" that include "seizures, fever, excessive crying, tremors, vomiting, and diarrhea," says Jennifer Lind, the lead author of the report and a CDC epidemiologist. These symptoms of withdrawal can last anywhere from a few weeks up to a month.

In particular, the report focused on three Florida hospitals for the data. Doctors discovered that the number of U.S. babies born addicted to painkillers has tripled within the past two decades, but that Florida has the highest increase for a state (about 10 times more).

Recent data noted that 242 babies were born with neonatal abstinence syndrome from 2010-2011 in those three Florida hospitals, and that 99.6 percent of them were exposed to narcotics. The majority of their moms tested positive for drugs during pregnancy, but only 10 percent were offered drug counseling or rehabilitation, in spite of potential birth risks such as birth defects, premature birth, and low birth weight.

Most babies (4 out of 5) born with neonatal abstinence syndrome need difficult and extensive medical treatment, which can be expensive. But the good news is that babies who are treated have a high chance of recovery.

Sherry Huang is a Features Editor for Parents.com. She loves collecting children's picture books and has an undeniable love for cookies of all kinds. Her spirit animal would be Beyoncé Pad Thai. Follow her on Twitter @sherendipitea.

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Photo of baby feed in an NICU incubator via Shutterstock

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