Number of Opioid-Addicted Women
Giving Birth Quadruples
By Dennis Thompson
The number of pregnant women addicted to opioids as they give birth has more than quadrupled since 1999, a disturbing new report shows.
In 2014, for every 1,000 hospital deliveries, 6.5 were mothers who arrived at the hospital with opioid use disorder, up from 1.5 per 1,000 in 1999, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers found.
This increase is likely linked to America’s ongoing opioid epidemic, said study co-author Jean Ko, an epidemiologist with the CDC’s division of reproductive health.
“With the opioid overdose epidemic, it’s natural to see increases in opioid use disorder among the general population,” Ko said. “Our data tell us that women presenting for labor and delivery are no different.
Opioid use during pregnancy has been tied to maternal death during delivery, stillbirth and preterm birth, the CDC researchers noted.
Even babies born healthy might have to go through opioid withdrawal, a condition known as neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).
Babies with NAS can experience tremors, convulsions, seizures, difficulty feeding, breathing problems, fever, diarrhea and trouble sleeping, according to the March of Dimes.
The CDC study used data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, focusing on 28 states with at least three years of data available for analysis.
Between 1999 and 2014, all 28 states saw significant increases in opioid-addicted pregnant women entering labor.
Vermont and West Virginia had the most cases of opioid-affected pregnancies in 2014. Vermont had 48.6 cases for every 1,000 deliveries; West Virginia had 32.1 cases per 1,000. On the low-end, Nebraska had 1.2 cases per 1,000 and the District of Columbia had 0.7 per 1,000.
The average annual rate increases were highest in Maine, New Mexico, Vermont and West Virginia. Those states all had growth of more than 2.5 cases per 1,000 each year — six times higher than the national average of 0.4 cases per 1,000.
The states with the lowest increases were California and Hawaii, with fewer than 0.1 new cases per 1,000 each year.
The new information “is very alarming and is a call to arms regarding this national health crisis,” said Dr. Mitchell Kramer, chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Huntington Hospital in Huntington, N.Y.
“We are well aware of the association of opioid exposure and abuse with adverse pregnancy outcomes including preterm labor and delivery, stillbirth, neonatal withdrawal syndrome and maternal mortality,” he said.
But Ko said concerns about babies with NAS should not dissuade pregnant women from taking medicines appropriately prescribed to treat chronic medical disorders, or from taking medications like methadone or buprenorphine that aid in addiction treatment.
The CDC recommends a number of strategies for countering this dangerous trend:
Making sure opioids are prescribed appropriately.
Strengthening state-level prescription drug monitoring programs.
Requiring substance abuse screening at the first prenatal visit, as recommended by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Ensuring that pregnant women with opioid use disorder have access to addiction therapy, and that new opioid-addicted mothers receive postpartum care that includes mental health and substance abuse treatment.
Kramer pointed out that “the implications of this startling CDC data are that coordinated national, state and provider efforts are necessary to prevent, monitor and treat opioid use disorder among reproductive-aged and pregnant women.”
The report was published in the Aug. 10 issue of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, VA – The second of twin infants found unresponsive in a vehicle Thursday has died, according to police in Chesterfield County, Virginia.
The 5-month-old twins were found unresponsive around 2:30 p.m. in an SUV in the 2400 block of Alfalfa Lane near Jefferson Davis Highway, according to WTVR.
Police, along with Chesterfield County Fire and EMS responded to the scene and transported the children to Chippenham Hospital.
One of the children was pronounced dead at the hospital Thursday afternoon. The other child died several hours later.
The children, according to neighbors were a boy and a girl.
A woman who lives a few doors down defended the children’s parents through tears.
“They go to work, they come home to their kids. They’re not any trouble, they’re awesome,” the woman, who declined to be identified, said.
“It’s tragic what happened, I don’t even know how to help them with their pain. It was certainly not an intentionally negligent act, it was a horrific mistake that can never be erased,” said another neighbor, Donna Gusti, who also works with both parents at a nearby Waffle House.
The woman who lives next door to the family said the wife was at work Thursday afternoon when she called her.
“His wife called me at 2 p.m. to wake him up to come and get her from work and that’s when everything happened,” the neighbor said. “That’s when he found the babies in the car.”
She believes the husband just forgot the babies remained in the car when he got home from dropping his wife off at work.
When to get help: A Specialist’s advice on
spotting signs of Child Abuse
TOLEDO, OH – Twenty five-year-old Zach Shadix , the man accused of killing 8-month-old Gabrielle Walker, appeared in court Thursday. Walker’s mother Lisa Eck spoke out about the crime saying she never saw it coming.
“I had woke up and went and made the baby a bottle like I do every morning. I went to her bassinet to get her and she was black and blue all over the right side of her face,” said Eck.
Eck told NBC 24 Shadix lived with her, the infant, and her 9 year-old son for 6 months without any problems. Child behavior experts at the Family and Childhood Abuse Prevention Center in Toledo say the one’s closest to you often commit crimes.
“A child is more likely to be hurt and killed by someone they trust,” said Dr. Christie Jenkins CEO of the center.
She deals with victims and their families, warning them of red flags.
“They’re scared, they cry they can be very clingy to the caregiver that’s not abusing them,” said Jenkins of the behavior of abused children.
While children might show a change in behavior there’s also the physical signs with odd-shaped bruises.
“When it’s abuse there’s typically circular motions there’s indentations of actual pieces of objects,” said Jenkins.
Even if an abuser isn’t harming a child psychically, there are often signs in the way they treat adults including getting easily frustrated along with being emotionally and physically abusive.
In addition to short tempers abusers will often have a rocky past. Court documents show Shadix had prior charges in Lucas County for violent behavior.
“If they’re going to do that with you when you’re gone and that baby is completely helpless, they’re going to do that with that child,” said Jenkins.
Right now Shadix is in custody, while Eck says she’s still processing what happened to her child.
If the above signs sound familiar or you have questions about child abuse the center offers free counseling and one-on-one sessions. You can visit their website to find more information.
Amber Alert out of Houston cancelled,
baby found, arrest made for murder
HOUSTON, TX – Two days after issuing an AMBER Alert, Houston police announced a six-week-old baby was found safe and arrest was made in the murder of the baby’s mother.
Baby Shamali Flores was found early Thursday morning and appears to be unharmed. Authorities say a woman who recently suffered a miscarriage fatally stabbed the baby’s mom at a Houston apartment and abducted her newborn daughter.
Police Chief Art Acevedo said at a news conference Thursday that 28-year-old Erika Miranda-Alvarez is charged with capital murder in the death of 33-year-old Carolina Flores. Acevedo says Miranda-Alvarez knew Flores, who was killed Tuesday.
He says Miranda-Alvarez hid her miscarriage from family members and was claiming that she had just returned this week from the hospital after giving birth.
He says investigators were at a southwest Houston apartment complex early Thursday when they happened to spot a couple holding a baby. They questioned the couple and determined that Miranda-Alvarez was holding 6-week-old Shamali Flores, who was unharmed.
The suspect’s boyfriend has not been charged and Acevedo says it appears he wasn’t aware of the miscarriage.