Opioid Withdrawal: Better Prevention/Treatment Options for Rural Women and Children

Conclusions from a 10-year study of newborns treated for opioid exposure indicate that rural communities are outpacing cities in the US in the number of babies born with symptoms of opioid withdrawal. Neonatal abstinence syndrome is associated with comorbidities including seizures, low birthweight, and difficulties with breathing, eating, and sleeping. The research was conducted by clinicians and faculty from the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital, and was published earlier this week in JAMA Pediatrics. Lead author Nicole Villapiano, MD, a pediatrician at Mott Hospital, commented, “The opioid epidemic has hit rural communities especially hard and we found that these geographical disparities also affect pregnant women and infants.”

The study reports that the incidence of newborns in rural communities born with neonatal abstinence syndrome registered 1 per 1000 in 2003-2004, increasing to 7.5 per 1000 in 2012-1013. This represents an 80% higher growth rate than was observed among newborns in urban communities. The findings echoed geographic statistics for maternal opioid use, which were 70% higher in rural counties than in urban areas during the study period. Dr. Villapiano observed that residents of urban communities typically have access to more and better treatment and addiction services than are available to families in rural areas.

Read a news story about the report here.

The journal article may be read here.

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