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Addiction & Children  |  September 15, 2016

Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).

It’s a term used to describe the withdrawal symptoms babies are forced to endure when they have been exposed to opioid drugs while in the womb.

What’s it like to be an infant withdrawing from these drugs? The common symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, tremors, hyperactive reflexes, excessive high pitched crying, irritability, rapid breathing and seizures.

Put simply – their lives begin as a living hell.

The CDC has just released a report showing the number of babies born in the U.S. in withdrawal (NAS) has quadrupled in the past 15 years.

The data for their report came from the 28 states that reliably report such data. States with the biggest jumps in babies with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome include Maine, Vermont and West Virginia. In West Virginia, 33.4 out of 1,000 births are now producing a baby struggling with an opioid addiction.

Put another way – the data shows that every twenty-five minutes a baby is born with NAS in America.

Why is this happening?

Like other adults in the U.S., young pregnant women in large numbers have become addicted to opioid drugs. In many cases, the addiction starts with a simple prescription for an opioid painkilling drug – maybe for something as simple as post-dental surgery pain or back spasms. And perhaps months or years before pregnancy.

Addiction follows. Then pregnancy.

A fetus in the womb shares its mother’s blood supply – including any drugs circulating in that blood supply. Dependency follows. At birth, these babies are instantly stripped of their supply and go into withdrawal.

Do they recover?

Yes – with proper care a baby born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome will survive – and after a hospital stay of nearly three weeks (vs. 2.1 days for a healthy baby) these babies can leave the hospital. Sadly, long term health effects can include retarded physical and mental development, learning disabilities and more.

Is there a solution?

Yes – the medical community needs to control its addiction to prescribing these drugs. And women of childbearing age need to receive effective addiction rehab treatment before they become pregnant.

If you know a young woman struggling with addiction to opioid drugs - the drug rehab specialists at Aware Recovery Care can help immensely. Using a treatment model inspired by researchers at Yale, Aware Recovery Care is helping addicts recover at rates 350% above the national average. Learn more today at www.awarerecoverycare.com.