Number of Pregnant Women Addicted to Opioids Increases, CDC Reports

Aug 14, 2018 at 5:43 p.m. ET
pregnant woman in hospital
Image: Jamie Grill/Getty Images.

The opioid crisis has reached new — and dangerous — heights and, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a group of major concern is expectant mothers. In fact, an analysis, published on Aug. 10 in CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, found that the number of women with opioid use disorder at labor and delivery has quadrupled from 1999 to 2014.

More: What Is Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, & How Can We Help Babies Affected?

CDC Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield told CBS News these findings are alarming at best: "These findings illustrate the devastating impact of the opioid epidemic on families across the U.S., including on the very youngest. Untreated opioid use disorder during pregnancy can lead to heartbreaking results. Each case represents a mother, a child, and a family in need of continued treatment and support."

Of course, opioid addiction is problematic for anyone. According to The Recovery Village, this type of addiction can cause numerous physical and/or mental health concerns, and “if not controlled, [opioid] addiction can lead to death.” In fact, opioid overdoses accounted for over 42,000 deaths in 2016 according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. However, opioid use during pregnancy can cause a slew of other problems, including but not limited to preterm birth, stillbirth, birth defects, maternal death and neonatal abstinence syndrome, which is a group of conditions caused when a baby withdraws from drug exposure in the womb.

And, unfortunately, one infant is born every 15 minutes with withdrawal symptoms after being exposed to opioids in utero according to a study from the Vanderbilt University Medical Center and published by Pediatrics journal earlier this year.

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Researchers analyzed data from women in 28 states, and while the national prevalence rate of opioid-use disorder grew by 0.39 cases per 1,000 each year, annual increases were lowest in California and Hawaii and were highest in Maine, New Mexico, Vermont and West Virginia.

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