BOSTON — About one child born every hour suffers from neonatal abstinence syndrome, according to study results presented here at the 2012 Pediatric Academic Societies Annual Meeting.
University of Michigan researcher Stephen Patrick, MD, MPH, MS, and colleagues evaluated the incidence of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) and maternal opiate use during pregnancy from 2000 to 2009.
Newborn participants were sampled from the Kids’ Inpatient Database and delivering mothers from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample. Both groups were identified by Diagnosis Related Groups. Researchers identified diagnoses using ICD-9 codes. Analyses were conducted with nationally weighted data, the researchers wrote.
Results show that from 2000 to 2009 the number of mothers using or dependent upon opiates when they gave birth increased from 1.19 to 5.59 (P,.001). During that same period, incidence of NAS increased from 1.25 to 3.55 (P,.001). Newborns with NAS were more likely in 2009 to have low birth weight than other children born in hospitals (19.6%), have seizures (2.3%), be enrolled in Medicaid or other state programs (77.9%), have respiratory complications (7.3%) and be born in the Northeast of the United States (25.2%), according to researchers.
From 2000 to 2009, the average hospital bill associated with newborns with NAS rose to $63,100 from $44,300, the researchers wrote. The total hospital charges for newborns diagnosed with NAS rose from $200 million to $850 million in 2009. Seventy-eight percent of those charges were to Medicaid programs.
“Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report which found that over the last decade sales for opiate pain relievers like OxyContin and Vicodin have quadrupled,” Patrick said in press release. “Although our study was not able to distinguish the exact opiate used during pregnancy, we do know that the overall use of this class of drugs grew by fivefold over the last decade, and this appears to correspond with much higher rates of withdrawal in their infants.”
The researchers said initiatives to prevent NAS and improve US health care for infants diagnosed with NAS “may result in reduction of morbidity and corresponding savings for the health care system.”
For more information:
- Patrick SW. #3850.607. Presented at: the 2012 Pediatric Academic Societies Annual Meeting; April 28–May 1, 2012; Boston.
Disclosure: Dr. Patrick reports no relevant financial disclosures.