Instead of the healthy cries of newborns, hospitals are now hearing an increase in shrieking just after birth — just one sign in a rising epidemic of infants born addicted to prescription drugs.
Nationally, the rate of newborns suffering withdrawal, or “neonatal abstinence syndrome,” rose 330 percent from 2000 to 2009, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association last spring.
In some states, it’s much worse: In Kentucky, the rate rose 2,400 percent. In Florida, it rose 500 percent between 2004 and 2011, the Sun Sentinel reports. And those figures are likely on the low side, since they don’t include infants without immediate symptoms who go home with parents who don’t report their drug use.
“It’s a silent epidemic that’s going on out there,” Audrey Tayse Haynes, secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, told USA Today in its story on the issue. “You need to say: ‘Stop the madness. This is too much.’”
It’s no surprise that the numbers are high in Kentucky and other states with rampant prescription drug abuse. Still, when Van Ingram, executive director of Kentucky’s Office of Drug Control Policy, requested statistics on infant hospitalizations, he was shocked.
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