Doctor says rate of opioids in newborns increasing across Central Ga.

Study: Increased rate of opioids in newborns

A local doctor says infants testing positive for certain drugs is becoming more and more common.

We reported Wednesday that Tomalynn Johnson of McIntyre was charged with felony murder after her newborn tested positive for meth and opiates and died at the hospital.

 

A local doctor is now telling us that during the last five years he has seen the number of infants born with opioid withdrawals nearly double.

"We're looking at about one and a half to two percent of our babies admitted are admitted with a diagnosis of neonatal withdrawal syndrome," says Doctor Mitch Rodriguez. 

Rodriguez is the director of the NICU at Coliseum Medical Center. 

He says the withdrawal syndrome is caused by mothers who take opiates during pregnancy. 

"Although that increase and the rate of rise is rather rapid, it's still relatively low compared to the rest of the nation," says Rodriguez. 

According to a study done by JAMA Pediatrics, the number of newborns dependent on drugs in rural hospitals increased by more than 6 times the amount from 2004 to 2013, and in urban hospitals, the rate more than tripled. 

"Once the baby is delivered, it has withdrawal signs that occur within 3 to 5 days of the delivery," says Rodriguez. 
 
Rodriguez says the signs range from vomiting to seizures, and even sometimes, death.
 
"The exposure and the need for treatment and the potential morbidities that may be associated, they tend to stay in the hospital for a longer period of time," says Rodrigeuz. 
 
According to a study in the Journal of Perinatology, the hospital costs associated with treating these kinds of newborns doubled from 732 million in 2009 to 1.5 billion in 2013. 

"If you are on a pain medication, getting help to get off that medication and basically any medication prior to becoming pregnant so that won't complicate the process," says Rodriguez. 

Last year, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine says NICU unit staff quadrupled the time they spent caring for those infants. 

© 2017 WMAZ-TV


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