The US opioid crisis is the public health emergency of our time and requires urgent public health action to monitor and protect the most vulnerable Americans. We have witnessed a startling death toll in 2017 with 70 237 drug overdose deaths in the United States, of which two-thirds involved opioids. The devastating consequences of this epidemic for mothers and infants have received less attention. Increases in opioid use and misuse in pregnancy have paralleled the increases in the general population; at delivery hospitalization, there were 4 times as many women with an opioid use disorder in 2014 compared with 1999. One of the most immediate and visible impacts of the opioid crisis on infants is the drug withdrawal in the newborn period, termed neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). On the basis of 2014 data, 1 newborn was diagnosed with NAS every 15 minutes in the United States, totaling about 32 000 infants annually with associated hospital costs estimated at $563 million. (author introduction)
Public health surveillance of prenatal opioid exposure in mothers and infants
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