A new report finds that the number of women who are addicted to opioids by the time they give birth has increased dramatically.
In the 15 years from 1999 to 2014, the number of pregnant women suffering from opioid use disorder quadrupled, the CDC reported Thursday.
They found that among the 50 states, the rates were highest in Vermont and West Virginia.
Opioid use during pregnancy can result in maternal or infant death, premature birth, and withdrawal symptoms such as seizures, excessive crying, and breathing problems.
The number of women who gave birth while addicted to opioids quadrupled between 1999 and 2015, a CDC report revealed (file image)
In the first study of its kind, the CDC used data from the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Care Cost and Utilization Project to look at hospital discharge data.
In 1999, they found that only 1.5 out of 1,000 women who went to the hospital to give birth were addicted to or abusing opioids.
By 2014, the most recent year for which data is available, the rate had increased by 333 percent to 6.5 per 1,000 women. nearly 25,000 deliveries across the country that year.
Data was only available for 30 states and the District of Columbia, but the researchers found that the highest values were in Vermont and West Virginia.
The incidence increased 97-fold in Vermont from 0.5 cases per 1,000 women in 2001 to 48.6 in 2014. In West Virginia, the increase was 53-fold from 0.6 cases in 2000 to 32.1 in 2014.
In 1999, the lowest rate was in Iowa and the highest in Maryland, while in 2014 the lowest rate was in Washington, DC, and the highest in Vermont.
Over the 15-year period, California and Maine had the lowest average rates of increase in opioid use disorders.
HOW AMERICA BECAME INVOLVED IN OPIOID DRUGS
Prescription opioids and illegal drugs have become incredibly prevalent across the US, and things are only getting worse.
In the early 2000s, the FDA and CDC began to see a steady increase in opioid addiction and overdose cases. In 2013, they issued guidelines to curb addiction.
However, that same year—now considered the year the epidemic took hold—a CDC report revealed an unprecedented increase in opioid addiction rates.
Overdose deaths are now the leading cause of death among young Americans, killing more in a year than HIV, gun violence or car accidents ever combined.
Preliminary data from the CDC, published by the New York Times, shows that the number of drug overdose deaths in the US rose by 19 percent in 2016 to at least 59,000.
That’s up from 52,404 in 2015 and double the death rate from a decade ago.
It means that for the first time, drug overdose is the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50.
The data reveal the dire state of America’s opioid addiction crisis, fueled by deadly manufactured drugs like fentanyl.
The highest average rates were found in Maine, New Mexico, Vermont and West Virginia.
“These findings illustrate the devastating impact of the opioid epidemic on families across the US, including the very youngest,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said in a statement.
“Untreated opioid use disorder during pregnancy can lead to heartbreaking outcomes. Each case represents a mother, child and family in need of ongoing treatment and support.”
The authors of the report say that different policies in US states could have an impact on the variability between states.
Eight states currently require tests for prenatal drug exposure if suspected.
In 24 states, as well as in Washington, DC, healthcare professionals are required to report suspected use. Additionally, 23 states and DC consider substance abuse during pregnancy to be child abuse.
Because this could lead to a woman being involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital, the authors say pregnant women could take great precautions to hide their opioid use from their doctors.
Several studies have shown the devastating consequences that opioid use disorder can have on pregnant women and their babies.
According to the Mayo Clinic, opioids can cross from the mother’s bloodstream into the placenta and enter the fetus’s central nervous system.
Complications that can be faced include premature birth, pre-eclampsia, placental abruption and even miscarriage.
Occasionally, babies may experience neonatal abstinence syndrome, which occurs when a baby experiences withdrawal symptoms from drugs it was exposed to in the womb.
Stanford Children’s Heath reports that more than half of children prenatally exposed to opiates, including heroin and methadone, experience withdrawal symptoms.
The authors also said the variation may be a result of different rates at which doctors prescribe opioids in different states.
According to the most recent CDC data available, doctors in West Virginia wrote an average of 98.6 opioid prescriptions per 100 people in 2016, which could mean a higher number of pregnant women also being prescribed opioids.
In 2017, more than 72,000 Americans died of drug overdoses, which include illegal drugs and prescription opioids, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
The growing opioid epidemic cost the U.S. more than $1 trillion between 2001 and 2017, according to an analysis released in February.
Around the same time, the US Senate announced it had appropriated $6 billion for the opioid epidemic over a two-year period.
Last October, President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency, and the federal government is expected to spend a record $4.6 billion this year to fight the opioid crisis.