By Denise Mann
MONDAY, April 30 (HealthDay News) — About one baby an hour is born addicted to powerful painkillers called opiates in the United States, a new study shows.
The number of infants born with a drug withdrawal syndrome called neonatal abstinence syndrome tripled between 2000 and 2009, jumping to more than 13,000, according to a study published online April 30 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
At the same time, use of prescription painkillers such as oxycodone (OxyContin) by mothers-to-be increased fivefold, the researchers noted.
“This is becoming a big problem and affecting newborns at an alarmingly high and increasing rate,” said study author Dr. Stephen W. Patrick, a fellow in the University of Michigan’s division of neonatal-perinatal medicine in Ann Arbor.
Babies with neonatal abstinence syndrome tend to be irritable, have heightened muscle tone (hypertonia), tremors, feeding intolerance, seizures and breathing difficulty. They also are more likely than others to be born at a low birth weight. Although other drugs can lead to neonatal abstinence syndrome, prescription painkillers are the usual cause, the study said.
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