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Rural Areas Producing More Drug Dependent Babies

The New York Times reported Monday that rural areas in the United States are showing more infant drug dependence than previously recorded. This finding is due in large part to the use of opioids in women in these rural areas a recent study shows.

The study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, is the first to show this connection. Researchers used data from 2004 to 2013 and found that compared with their urban matches, rural infants and mothers with opioid-related diagnoses were “more likely to be from lower-income families, have public insurance, and be transferred to another hospital following delivery. The proportion of infants diagnosed with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) who were from rural areas increased from 12.9% in 2003/2004 to 21.2% in 2012/13.”

Further results indicated that newborn deliveries complicated by opioid use by the mother increased among those mothers from rural areas as well. While NAS primarily impacts infants while in utero, symptoms after delivery can include seizures, fever and tremors with treatment programs often using methadone to wean the newborns off of dependency.

The New York Times also reported on these findings and indicated that articles and news were once published in regard to babies being born to heroin-addicted mothers in large urban cities.   The new statistics are significant in that the trend has completely “flipped,” showing a need for opioid/drug use prevention and treatment in more rural areas in the United States.