The rate of babies born with an addiction tripled in the span of nine years.
Last year’s studies are being made new again because the problems they first identified are skyrocketing, and because they may provide additional incentive for the passing of a controversial new law.
According to research published April 30, 2012 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) nearly tripled between 2000 and 2009. The 2009 figures showed that an estimated 13,539 newborns were diagnosed with the drug withdrawal syndrome.
Dr. Stephen Patrick, lead investigator of the study, said the following:
“Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention … found that over the last decade, sales for opiate pain relievers like Oxycontin and Vicodin have quadrupled. Although our study was not able to distinguish the exact opiate used during pregnancy, we do know the overall use of this class of drugs grew by 5-fold over the last decade and this appears to correspond with much higher rates of withdrawal in their infants.”
So how do we combat this? Many advocates are looking first at our health system and asking questions such as:
-How best can we limit people going to multiple doctors in order to get opiate prescriptions?
Still others are looking at myriad awareness initiatives that may put a dent into America’s pill-popping culture.
But Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller has caused quite a stir with his recent idea: What if we require pregnant women to take drug tests so the problem can be identified earlier and the treatment can start before birth?
Zoeller went on to say that treating NAS in 2010 cost Indiana nearly $30 million – insinuating that such expenses could be cut significantly if the problem could be caught and treated earlier. His statement seems to make sense when you consider that, according to Science Daily,
“Neonatal abstinence syndrome causes a wide array of symptoms including increased irritability, hypertonia, or heightened muscle tone, tremors, feeding intolerance, seizures, and respiratory distress. In addition, babies with the syndrome are more likely to be born with a low birthweight.”
Tonight at 7:30pm Al Jazeera America will discuss NAS and the controversial way in which Zoeller believes we can address the problem.
What do you think? Would mandatory verbal screenings be enough or should a blood and urine analysis be conducted? Is the mandatory drug testing of pregnant women an abuse of human rights? Or is Zoeller’s idea, as The Stir believes, the stupidest idea ever?