The researchers said that the narcotic pain relievers can increase the risk of child suffering from Neonatal abstinence syndrome or NAS.
Opioid prescriptions are increasing in America and in 2012, an estimated 259 million prescriptions were written for opioid pain relievers.
The researchers for their study collected data from the TennCare, Tennessee’s Medicaid program where they analyzed 111,029 pregnant mothers.
After the analysis they found that 28 percent or 31,354 pregnant women were prescribed with opioids for pain and 65 percent of the other pregnant women illegally filled opioids in their prescription.
The study revealed that the babies who are exposed to the drug opioids were more likely to be born preterm and have low birth weight, complicated birth, and have complications like respiratory distress and meconium aspiration syndrome which is a sign of infant distress at birth.
The lead author of the study, Stephen Patrick, M.D., MPH, assistant professor of Pediatrics and Health Policy in the Division of Neonatology with the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, said, “Not all babies exposed to opioids have drug withdrawal after birth for reasons that aren’t entirely clear. Our study found that several things increased an infant’s risk, including the duration of opioid use, the type of prescription opioid, how many cigarettes a woman smoked and if they used a common antidepressant medicine called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.”
Patrick says, “It draws attention to what is going on in our nation.”
He added, “All in all we hope the study garners the attention of state and federal policy makers to highlight that the prescription opioid epidemic is having a tangible impact on both mothers and infants.”
All states except Missouri are having a prescription monitoring system that tracks providers and pharmacists writing opioid prescriptions.