Newborns being born addicted to painkillers is yet another disturbing trend stemming from the rampant abuse of prescription drugs. The number of pregnant women who were dependent on or using opiates when they delivered increased from 4,839 in 2000 to 23,009 in 2009.
As a result, the incidence of babies being born with neonatal abstinence syndrome, a group of problems caused by maternal opiate use during pregnancy, has nearly tripled in the past decade. In 2009, the syndrome was diagnosed in newborns at a rate of 3.4 per 1,000 hospital births per year, up from 1.2 diagnoses per 1,000 births per year in 2000.
Use of opioid painkillers during pregnancy increases the risk of certain birth defects, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.