According to a study, from 2000 to 2009 in the U.S., the yearly rate of maternal opiate use grew almost 5 times, while diagnosis of neonatal abstinence syndrome, the drug withdrawal syndrome in infants, grew nearly 3 times.
Recent research revealed that 16.2% pregnant teenagers and 7.4 % pregnant women between the ages of 18 and 25 years make use of illegal drugs. Neonatal abstinence syndrome in most cases happens within the context of antepartum opiate usage, though other drugs are also suggested as a factor. As well as neonatal abstinence syndrome, illicit drug use while pregnant is linked to a significantly greater risk of unwanted neonatal outcomes like low birth weight and fatality. Neonatal abstinence syndrome is characterized by a range of symptoms and signs which includes increased irritability, feeding intolerance, hypertonia (heightened muscle tone), tremors, respiratory distress and seizures. Symptoms of withdrawal related to neonatal abstinence syndrome have been described in 60 % to 80 % of infants exposed to methadone or heroin in utero. Up to now, there have been no estimations of the national number of cases of neonatal abstinence syndrome throughout the U.S. in the context of opiate use while pregnant.
Researchers carried out a study to look at patterns in the national number of cases of neonatal abstinence syndrome and maternal opiate use at time of delivery.
From 2000 to 2009, the rate of newborns identified as having neonatal abstinence syndrome grew from 1.20 to 3.39 per 1,000 hospital births annually. At the same time, the amount of mothers making use of or dependent on opiates grew from 1.19 to 5.63 per 1,000 hospital births annually. In comparison to all other hospital births, infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome were significantly more prone to have respiratory diagnoses (30.9 %), low birth weight (19.1 %), feeding difficulties (18.1 %), and seizures (2.3 %).
In 2009, the amount of newborns estimated to have neonatal abstinence syndrome was 13,539, or about 1 infant born each hour in the U.S. having signs of drug withdrawal.