Opioid use has become much more dangerous than we could ever prepare for. Hospitals are in danger as pregnant mothers are taking up more of their time and money. As mothers use opioids while pregnant, they put their child at risk for neonatal abstinence syndrome. Neonatal abstinence syndrome is defined as “a constellation of symptoms that occur in newborn infants exposed to addictive illegal or prescription drugs in utero.” This syndrome puts infants at risk for neurological symptoms, including seizures and tremors. It can also lead to issues with the gastrointestinal system. When a baby experiences a withdrawal, they are administered the opioid and other medications within the hospital setting.
Researchers completed a study measuring the inflation within health care provider costs and length of hospital stays. The comparison as between twenty eight thousand infants with the syndrome, and more than three million without. Along with millions of dollars being added and several hundred thousand days, the increase in stay was three and a half times longer and the cost was over three times greater (for infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome). It is suggested that public health initiatives also focus on the education and resources for reproductive-age women in order to prevent drug exposure before they become pregnant. This cost is extreme and could be further avoided with the first level of prevention, rather than the third.
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