Huge increase in babies born addicted to drugs in US

Women 'have admitted' taking heroin outside the hospital before giving birth

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The Independent US

One baby is born every half an hour addicted to some form of painkiller or opiate in the US, new figures have revealed.

Doctors have blamed pharmaceutical companies for encouraging low-income mothers to take strong painkillers for increased levels of drug-abuse in cities and addiction in babies.

The results from the New England Journal of Medicine show the number of babies suffering from drug withdrawal at birth has quadrupled in the last decade.

Whereas in 2004, seven babies in 1,000 were born dependent on narcotics, by 2013 the figure had leapt to 27 in every 1000 by 2013.

One doctor told Sky News that women have admitted taking heroin outside the hospital before coming in to give birth, and are burdened with feelings of guilt and shame.

There is also evidence that, even after the baby is fed some of the narcotic to gradually wean it off, there could be a long-term impact on his or her DNA.


"'We had no idea that this was possible but now we do,” Dr Paul Winchester, director of St Francis Hospital in Indianapolis, told Sky News.

A doctor at a hospital in Indiana said the pharmaceutical companies "war on pain" had targeted low income mothers and made them dependent on morphine and mephodrone.

They often then turn to the street for heroin, which can be as cheap as a packet of cigarettes, reported Sky News.

Yet there is also a rise in heroin use among groups where it has been relatively low in the past - including higher income groups and those who can afford private health insurance.

The study in the New England Journal of Medicine additionally showed doctors were finding it harder to wean babies off various drugs, taking on average 19 days before the newborn no longer felt sick or in pain.