New York Senator Charles Schumer has proposed steps the federal government should take to tackle the increasing problem of opioid exposure in newborns. As reported by the Partnership at Drug-Free.org, Schumer called on the FDA, SAMHSA, the NIH, as well as the CDC to help address the issue of prescription drug abuse among pregnant women.
At a news conference, Senator Schumer cited a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study found that 3.4 of every 1,000 American infants born in 2009—one infant every hour—suffered from neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), a drug withdrawal syndrome in newborns, most commonly associated with a mother’s opioid use during pregnancy. During this same period, researchers found that the number of pregnant women addicted to prescription drugs rose fivefold.
The study noted that illicit drug use during pregnancy significantly increases the risk of low birth weight and death. Earlier this year, the American Academy of Pediatrics released updated guidelines, outlining various protocols for treating newborns exposed to drugs. Some may need comforting measures such as reduced exposure to light and sound, while others may need medication to cope with symptoms of withdrawal.