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Peter F Egan

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Rise in Infants Suffering from Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Alarming
by Peter F Egan   
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Last edited: Saturday, May 05, 2012
Posted: Saturday, May 05, 2012

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In just a decade, the number of infants being born as drug addicts has grown by five times what it had been ten years prior. This is a disturbing trend for multiple reasons, the rate-of-increase being just one of many.

Number of Drug-Addicted Infants Growing by 50% Each Year

The rise in infants who are born with a diagnosis of neonatal abstinence syndrome is extremely alarming, and represents an already too-big and still growing problem with women who use drugs while pregnant.

Neonatal abstinence syndrome is essentially a term for a baby who is born addicted to drugs, usually opioid painkillers, and suffers severe withdrawal symptoms that would make waterboarding look like hide-and-go-seek be comparison from the moment they exit the womb.
From 2000 through 2009, the rate of babies born with this drug-addicted condition has increased by 500% while showing no sign of slowing down.
These are already scary numbers, make no mistake about that. However, despite all the talk about how to prevent women abusing drugs while pregnant and how to minimize the infant's suffering once born, the thing no one is talking about is the psychological impact of severe opioid withdrawals being a person's first experience in life both in childhood and on down the road of life.
While no studies have been conducted other than those confirming that those born addicts are more likely to become them in adulthood, it seems probable that those whose first impression of life is the worst form of torture suffer some sort of psychological and/or emotional trauma that afflicts them into adulthood. If sexual abuse at an early age can scar one for life, it seems reasonable to assume that there is likely some lingering effect resulting from the extent of the trauma, even if the person has no cognizant recollection of the withdrawal pains suffered immediately upon birth.
This is an area that science and medicine must team up asap to address the search for preventive solutions, treatment options for those addicted prior to becoming pregnant and a mechanism to bring relief to infants born with NAS. The extent of the pain these babies suffer should be sufficient to ensure it top placement on the list of priorities for areas to-be-studies, as the need for a solution is more severe than ever. At a 50% per year increase in the number of infants afflicted with this condition, the need to find a valid and bona fide cure is irrefutable and of greater significance than numerous other areas of study currently receiving more than adequate funding.
Author's Note: The claims made in this article are based upon a study and corresponding opinion piece, the former of which recently appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), and was conducted by scientists from a couple of prestigious American universities.

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