Mother’s painkiller addiction causes baby drug withdrawal


Number of infants affected by mothers’ painkiller addiction triples

Painkiller addiction is a brain disease that should be treated like other illnesses

Disturbing new research published in the United States says the number of  new  born babies with signs of drug withdrawal has tripled during the last ten years. This is caused due to a surge in pregnant women’s painkiller addiction. The study of the problem is first of its kind. To find out more about the reasons for withdrawal, please visit

The number of newborns with drug withdrawal symptoms increased from a little more than 1 per 1,000 babies sent home from the hospital in 2000 to more than 3 per 1,000 in 2009. Nearly 13,000 U.S. infants were born addicted in 2009, the research estimated.

Curing infants from the drugs they absorbed from their mothers can take weeks or months. In many cases, it  requires a lengthy stay in intensive care units. Hospital charges for treating these newborns soared nearly four times in nine years, the study found.

The study on painkiller addiction in babies was released online Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The symptoms of drug withdrawal caused by mothers painkiller addiction include: night crying, diarrhea, trouble feeding. Some painkiller addiction affected babies also have breathing problems, low birth weights and seizures.

Doctors commented that newborns aren not really addicted. It is that the little bodies are dependent on methadone in most of the cases or other opiates, because of their mothers’ painkiller addiction during pregnancy. Small doses to wean them off these drugs is safer than cutting them off altogether, which can cause dangerous seizures and even death, according to pediatricians.

 Dr. Stephen Patrick, the lead author of the study and a newborn specialist at the University of Michigan health system in Ann Arbor, called the problem a “public health epidemic” that demands attention from policymaker. Researchers need to dedicate more efforts on clarifying what long-term problems these infants may face.

Some affected newborns suffer developmental delays in early childhood, but whether those problems persist and for how long is uncertain.

Patients, men and women, often begin to use painkillers for legitimate reasons, such as car accident injuries of post surgery pain relief. Later they can develop painkiller addiction and find themselves addicted when prescriptions runs out. Some turn to the nearest pharmacy and buy what the pharmacist suggests, which can be cheaper and easier.

Painkiller addiction is a brain disease that should be treated like other illnesses, but not stigmatized.

Pregnant women in a need of painkillers were advised to research alternative options, such as organic medicaments.


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