Our nation’s opioid abuse epidemic is affecting even the littlest Americans, with alarming prevalence.
New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a fourfold increase in the number of women struggling with opioid abuse at the time of labor and delivery. The increase occurred over the period of 1999 to 2014.
Opioid abuse — or opioid-use disorder, as it is formally known — has devastating effects on mommas and babies. These include stillbirth, premature birth and even maternal death, to name a few. Another sad outcome mentioned in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Report is neonatal abstinence syndrome. This is the name for the withdrawal symptoms newborns suffer after they become hooked on substances in the womb, then are removed from those substances after birth.
Trouble sleeping, excessive crying, vomiting, dehydration, fever and tremors are a few of the struggles these babies may endure.
The growing opioid epidemic also is leading to greater numbers of children ending up in foster care. A March 2018 study conducted by the federal government showed a tie between opioid addiction deaths and the number of children in foster care. For a 10 percent increase in a given county’s rate of overdose deaths due to opioid abuse, there is a 4.4 percent increase in the number of children being placed into foster care.
But there is hope for moms and kids alike. A growing number of facilities and programs exist to help people struggling with opioid abuse. These rely on a mix of counseling, medication and family support to overcome addiction. Visit HHS.gov/opioids to find treatment near you.