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More American Women Using Opioids and Methamphetamines During Pregnancy

Cara Hutto

A new study revealed that there’s an alarming escalation in women using drugs during pregnancy, especially in rural communities across the nation. The trend is extremely high for opioid usage--babies exposed to opioids quadrupled from 2008-09 to 2015-15 from 1.5 to 6.5 babies out of every 1,000 delivered at a hospital. The highest percentage was found in the rural northeast, where 28.7 out of every 1,000 babies were exposed to opioids. The trend is mirrored in amphetamines too--the amount of babies born exposed to amphetamines, mainly meth, doubled from 1.2 to 2.4 babies out of every 1,000. The use of drugs during pregnancy can lead to severe maternal complications as well as health deficiencies in the baby. Joshua Brown, a professor at the University of Florida College of Pharmacy, explained that this eye-opening study shows that the opioid crisis and neonatal alcohol syndrome aren’t the only issues we should focus on, although they’ve historically been the center of maternal and child health concerns. "Given the disproportionate burden of substance use disorders in rural areas, there's a tremendous need for access to treatment options, screenings, and outreach to reduce all substance abuse during pregnancy whether that be prescription or illicit use of amphetamines, opioids, cannabis, tobacco, etc,” said Brown.

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