Rural U.S. kids are born addicted to heroin, opioids: report

Rural U.S. kids are born addicted to heroin, opioids: report

Thousands of American kids, particularly in rural areas, are born addicted to heroin and powerful prescription painkillers or opioids because of prevalent drug abuse by pregnant women, according to a new study.

Widespread drug abuse by pregnant women make newborns addicted to heroin, opioids and potent prescription painkillers like OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin.

A team of experts led by Dr. Nicole Villapiano of the University of Michigan found that rural communities experienced roughly 80 per cent higher increase in infant opioid withdrawal rates than in urban areas between 2004 and 2013.

The researchers didn't evaluate the root causes of the trend, but Villapiano suggested some likely contributing factors.

Speaking on the trend, Villapiano said, "The magnitude of the difference between rural and urban areas was not expected. We know that patients in rural areas tend to be poorer, have higher rates of chronic diseases, are more likely to smoke, drink alcohol, and suffer from drug addiction."

Infant opioid withdrawal, which is also called neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), can cause low birth weight, a higher risk for seizures, in addition to problems in breathing and sleeping after birth. Affected kids may also develop attention-deficit issues down the road. However, long-term risks remain unclear.

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