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The Rate of Babies Born to Opioid Addicted Moms Has Quadrupled in the Last 15 Years

Since 1999, the amount of babies who were born to opioid addicted moms has increased more than four-fold.

Flickr / Governor Tom Wolf

The U.S. Centers for Disease and Control Prevention released a report studying the 15 years between 1999 and 2014 studying the rate of babies born to opioid addicted mothers — and the numbers are not good. According to the study, the number of women who gave birth addicted to opioids over that period of 15 years more than quadrupled.

For context, in 1999, only 1.5 out of a thousand babies was born to a mother who was addicted to opioids. By 2014, 6.5 out of every 1,000 babies were born to opioid-addicted moms. That number, of course, obscures the geographical impact of opioid addiction — in states that have been hit particularly hard, like Vermont, nearly 50 out of every 1,000 babies is born to an addict, but in D.C., less than one baby is. Still, seeing the rate increase so much in such a short amount of time is incredibly disheartening.

Babies born to addicted moms are more likely to have neonatal abstinence syndrome, a disorder that is marked by intense withdrawal, teething issues, seizures, and potential developmental setbacks. The increase in opioid-addicted moms giving birth also mirrors new research that shows that the amount of kids who overdose on opioids has doubled since 2004. There’s also the fact that an opioid-dependent baby is born every 20 minutes. Also, as a result of the burgeoning crisis, foster care homes and adoption centers have become overburdened. There are half a million kids in foster care across the states today, and many of those were surrendered to the state due to their parent’s addictions.