Number of Opioid-Addicted Women Giving Birth Quadruples

THURSDAY, Aug. 9, 2018 — The number of pregnant women addicted to opioids as they give birth has more than quadrupled since 1999, a disturbing new report shows.

In 2014, for every 1,000 hospital deliveries, 6.5 were mothers who arrived at the hospital with opioid use disorder, up from 1.5 per 1,000 in 1999, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers found.

This increase is likely linked to America’s ongoing opioid epidemic, said study co-author Jean Ko, an epidemiologist with the CDC’s division of reproductive health.

“With the opioid overdose epidemic, it’s natural to see increases in opioid use disorder among the general population,” Ko said. “Our data tell us that women presenting for labor and delivery are no different.”

Opioid use during pregnancy has been tied to maternal death during delivery, stillbirth and preterm birth, the CDC researchers noted.

Even babies born healthy might have to go through opioid withdrawal, a condition known as neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).

Babies with NAS can experience tremors, convulsions, seizures, difficulty feeding, breathing problems, fever, diarrhea and trouble sleeping, according to the March of Dimes.

The CDC study used data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, focusing on 28 states with at least three years of data available for analysis.

Between 1999 and 2014, all 28 states saw significant increases in opioid-addicted pregnant women entering labor.

Vermont and West Virginia had the most cases of opioid-affected pregnancies in 2014. Vermont had 48.6 cases for every 1,000 deliveries; West Virginia had 32.1 cases per 1,000. On the low end, Nebraska had 1.2 cases per 1,000 and the District of Columbia had 0.7 per 1,000.

The average annual rate increases were highest in Maine, New Mexico, Vermont and West Virginia. Those states all had growth of more than 2.5 cases per 1,000 each year — six times higher than the national average of 0.4 cases per 1,000.

The states with the lowest increases were California and Hawaii, with fewer than 0.1 new cases per 1,000 each year.

The new information “is very alarming and is a call to arms regarding this national health crisis,” said Dr. Mitchell Kramer, chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Huntington Hospital in Huntington, N.Y.

“We are well aware of the association of opioid exposure and abuse with adverse pregnancy outcomes including preterm labor and delivery, stillbirth, neonatal withdrawal syndrome and maternal mortality,” he said.

But Ko said concerns about babies with NAS should not dissuade pregnant women from taking medicines appropriately prescribed to treat chronic medical disorders, or from taking medications like methadone or buprenorphine that aid in addiction treatment.

The CDC recommends a number of strategies for countering this dangerous trend:

  • Making sure opioids are prescribed appropriately.
  • Strengthening state-level prescription drug monitoring programs.
  • Requiring substance abuse screening at the first prenatal visit, as recommended by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
  • Ensuring that pregnant women with opioid use disorder have access to addiction therapy, and that new opioid-addicted mothers receive postpartum care that includes mental health and substance abuse treatment.

Kramer pointed out that “the implications of this startling CDC data are that coordinated national, state and provider efforts are necessary to prevent, monitor and treat opioid use disorder among reproductive-aged and pregnant women.”

The report was published in the Aug. 10 issue of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

More information

The March of Dimes has more about neonatal abstinence syndrome.

Posted: August 2018

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Health officials call for government to give out sanitary products

Sanitary products should be handed out for free in hospitals and low-income homes to end period poverty, urge health officials

  • BMA health officials have called for sanitary products to be given out for free  
  • It’s hoped handing them out in hospitals will help put an end to ‘period poverty’
  • A BMA spokesperson called current provisions for women ‘unacceptable’  
  • ‘Many resort to toilet paper, scraps of fabric, or nothing at all,’ she warned   
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Health officials have called for sanitary products to be given out for free in hospitals and to low-income houses, in the hope of tackling ‘period poverty’.

The British Medical Association (BMA) are calling for the government to expand access to sanitary products, especially for in-patients and women from poor backgrounds, who otherwise could not afford them.

The situation is so desperate that women are forced to use: ‘toilet paper, scraps of fabric, or sometimes nothing at all,’ according to the co-chair for the BMA medical students committee, Mita Dhullipala.

‘Period supplies are essential but they can be expensive,’ she said.

‘It is unacceptable that there are still people who cannot access them, usually those who are vulnerable or on low incomes.’

The term ‘period poverty’ calls attention to the number of women who cannot afford proper sanitary products.

For example, statistics revealed by Plan International UK last year show that one in 10 young women aged 14 to 21 cannot afford sanitary towels in Britain. 

The government says it ‘strongly supports’ scrapping the five per cent levy on sanitary products after Brexit in March 2019, which maybe contributing to the number of women unable to purchase sanitary products.


BMA Health officials have called for sanitary products to be given out for free in hospitals

‘Many women resort to using scraps of fabric’

The BMA passed a motion at its Annual Representative Meeting today calling for sanitary products to be available in hospitals and low-income houses. 

‘It would be convenient if you could plan your period around your life, and around your treatment, but sadly this isn’t the case,’ Dhullipala said.

‘Having sanitary products easily available in hospitals would save patients the embarrassment of being caught out at a time that is already stressful enough.

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She went on to say that some women are unable to afford sanitary products, and are being forced to use toilet paper, scraps of fabric, or nothing.

‘Period poverty can be stopped by making sure these products are available to those who can’t afford them,’ she said. 

A Scottish solution 

Meanwhile, a pilot project to provide free sanitary products to women from low-income households in Aberdeen was successful and has received funding in order to be extended.

The Scottish Government announced in March that it is making £12,000 available for the continuation of a pilot scheme run by social enterprise Community Food Initiatives North East (CFINE).

The funding will allow the project to continue until an evaluation is completed in the summer as well as covering testing of provision in the schools, college and university taking part.


Statistics show that one in 10 young women aged 14-21 cannot afford sanitary towels in Britain

Equalities Secretary Angela Constance said: ‘The pilot in Aberdeen is helping us to better understand the barriers that some women face when it comes to accessing sanitary products and how we could make free products easily accessible to those who need them.

‘Our six-month pilot in the north east is coming to an end, having successfully recruited over 1,000 women. 

‘We have begun to analyse the information collected during the pilot and the final reports are expected over the summer.

‘In the meantime, I’m pleased to announce that we will continue to make sanitary products available through Community Food Initiatives North East until we have the full results of the pilot.’

UK CHILDREN ARE MISSING SCHOOL BECAUSE OF ‘PERIOD POVERTY’

Children in the UK are missing several days of school a month because they are too poor to buy sanitary products, according to a campaign group in December.

Freedom4Girls usually distributes period products in Kenya but realised it was not just women and girls in poor countries who could not afford sanitary products when they were contacted by a school in Leeds last year.

The school had a number of girls who were truanting when they had their period because they could not pay for products or they did not understand what was going on with their body. 

Freedom4Girls was joined in a protest at Downing Street by Free Periods, a group campaigning for tampons and pads to be provided free in schools for children on free school meals.

Free Periods argues the cost of doing this is relatively low, about £4.78 million per year, compared to the £102 billion education budget in 2016-17. 

‘Period poverty’ and the tampon tax

There has been a levy on sanitary products in the UK since it joined the European Economic Community in 1973, which may contribute to the number of women unable to purchase sanitary products.

The tax was lowered to five per cent in 2000, but this is the lowest rate permitted under the European Union’s tax law.

This is controversially at odds with the zero-VAT rate on other very similar items, like incontinence pads.

The government says it ‘strongly supports’ scrapping the tax after Brexit in March 2019, and currently the £15 million it brings in a year is being sent to women´s charities.

 

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