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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Medical Groups Calling for Pregnant Women Drug Screening

The prescription opioid epidemic has had many victims, perhaps the most unfortunate victim being the unborn. In the United States, every hour, a baby is born showing symptoms of opioid withdrawal, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

In an attempt to combat the growing number of babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), a number of medical groups are calling for verbal drug screening for pregnant women, followed by a urine test if necessary, USA Today reports.

Babies born with NAS show symptoms including:
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Low-grade fever
  • Constant high-pitched crying
Babies that are born premature with NAS may experience respiratory distress.

“When a child’s first days in this world are in agony, that certainly should be a concern to all of us,” Van Ingram, Executive Director of the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, told the newspaper. “We need to do all we can to prevent this.”

States reporting a rise in babies born with NAS include:
  • Kentucky
  • Tennessee
  • Florida
  • Vermont
The universal screening of all pregnant women is also being called for by the American Medical Association and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, the article notes.

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