Opioid-exposed Infants on the Rise

gr-august CDC courtesy photoThe Center for Disease Control and Prevention courtesy photos.

by Mary C. Piemonte
The Utah County Sheriff recently reported that two Elk Ridge Parents, who were drug users, gave some dope to their newborn baby girl in the hospital, shortly after the infant’s birth this past June, to hide the fact that she was suffering from withdrawal symptoms, known as Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS).

26-year-old Lacey Dawn Christenson, was using Opioid drugs throughout the duration of her pregnancy, and after she and her common-in-law husband  29-year-old Colby Glen Wilde were arrested, the majority of their four kids tested positive for drugs, according to the Utah County Sheriff’s Office press release on July 21, 2017.

Two of the couple’s three younger boys, ages 8, 4, and 2, and the infant girl all tested positive for methamphetamine. The infant also tested positive for heroin and morphine,

The Department of Children and Family Services  officials contacted the oldest boy’s father and he took custody of his child. And after being approved by DCFS, the un-named man was granted custody of the other young boys, including the infant girl because “he did not want to separate the children from each other.”

Wilde_Colby Christenson_Lacey Utah County Sheriff Department’s courtesy photos of Colby Glen Wilde, age 29, and his common law wife, Lacey Dawn Christenson, age 26, also of Elk Ridge.

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS): a growing problem
Last year in August, the Center on Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). reported an increase in in the number of infants affected with NAS in the United States, which is a drug withdrawal syndrome that occurs when newborn babies experience withdrawal after being exposed to drugs in the womb.

CDC Video Presentation on Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

 2,920, babies were born with NAS in 2000. 21,732 in the year 2012, and one infant with NAS was born every 25 minutes” in 2012, according to the CDC report.

The withdrawal symptoms commonly occur 48–72 hours after the infected infants birth, where they experience a host of serious health disorders like tremors, hyperactive reflexes, seizures, Excessive or high-pitched crying, irritability, yawning, stuffy nose, sneezing, and sleep disturbances. Poor feeding and sucking, vomiting, loose stools, dehydration, poor weight gain, Increased sweating, temperature instability, and fever.

Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illicit drug heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, and bartiurates as well as prescription pain relievers oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, fentanyl and others such as Vicodin®, OxyContin®, and Percocet® according to the CDC.

On July 17, 2017, the CDC announced they would be awarding more than $12 million to 23 states and the District of Columbia to support their responses to the opioid overdose epidemic. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2017/p0717-opioid-funding.html

Opioid Addiction and Overdose Statistics to Date
Over 2.5 million Americans struggle with substance abuse disorders related to opioid drugs, both prescription painkillers and heroin according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, (ASAM).

And it’s having a severe impact specifically on young people, 12 to 17 years old, and women, based on their 2016 Facts & Figures.

In 2015, there were 276,000 adolescents who illegally used pain relievers, with 122,000 of them who formed an addiction from its usage.

Also in 2015, an estimated 21,000 of the youth population, “had used heroin in the past year, and an estimated 5,000 were current heroin users.” And an estimated 6,000 number of young people had a heroin use disorder in 2014.

According to the ASAM report, people often share their unused pain relievers, unaware of the dangers of “nonmedical” opioid use. And they added that “most” adolescents who misuse prescription pain relievers are given them for free by a friend or relative.”

ASAM added that women are more likely to have chronic pain, be prescribed prescription pain relievers, be given higher doses, and use them for longer time periods than men. In which, they may become dependent on prescription pain relievers more quickly than men.

According to ASAM statistics, 48,000 women died of prescription pain reliever overdoses between 1999 and 2010.

Additionally, ASAM reported that “drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the US, with 52,404 lethal drug overdoses in 2015” and “opioid addiction is driving this epidemic, with 20,101 overdose deaths related to prescription pain relievers, and 12,990 overdose deaths related to heroin in 2015.”

Additionally, “From 1999 to 2008, overdose death rates, sales and substance use disorder treatment admissions related to prescription pain relievers increased in parallel.”

In 2012, 259 million prescriptions were written for opioids, according to ASAM, which they reported “is more than enough to give every American adult their own bottle of pills.

The ASAM report added that “94% of respondents in a 2014 survey of people in treatment for opioid addiction said they chose to use heroin because prescription opioids were ‘far more expensive and harder to obtain.’”

And of the 20.5 million Americans 12 or older that had a substance use disorder in 2015, ASAM reported that “2 million had a substance use disorder involving prescription pain relievers and 591,000 had a substance use disorder involving heroin. And an estimated 23% of individuals who use heroin develop opioid addiction.”



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