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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Federal Grant for Treating Pregnant Opioid Addicts

Pregnant women who use prescription opioids or heroin put their baby at serious risk. Using these types of drugs during a pregnancy can result in the baby being born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), caused by a baby losing their supply to the drug after prolonged exposure. NAS symptoms are similar to what an adult experiences when they withdraw from opioids; however, a baby is vulnerable in the first days of life and the effects can have a serious impact.

Naturally, more and more babies are being born with NAS with rise of prescription opioid abuse and subsequent heroin use across the country. Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) have seen a dramatic rise in NAS cases in recent years. Babies with NAS require close observation for a number of weeks after birth which can be quite costly, treating women for opioid addiction before they give birth is of the utmost importance. Massachusetts, along with 11 other states, has just received funding from a federal grant for the treatment opioid addiction, according to WWLP.

At Baystate Medical Center, Dr. Robert Rothstein saw 55 NAS cases at the NICU admissions in 2009. In 2014, the same NICU saw 110 NAS cases, which typically requires three weeks to a month to treat all the symptoms of the condition, the article reports.

“We see babies with tremors, increased tone, very stiff. Inability to console or sleep. They can have seizures from their abstinence,” said Rothstein. 

Gov. Charlie Baker believes that the grant will save lives. The funding will also be used for addiction support and recovery services, and for helping identify pregnant women in need of treatment.

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