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Babies addicted to prescription painkillers?

NEED TO KNOW
  • On average, a child is born every hour in the U.S., addicted to opiates
  • 'Getting moms into treatment programs and acknowledging the problem is the first step,' doctor says

Is this the epidemic of the 21st century? Pregnant women and new moms popping pills in record numbers?

The Journal of the American Medical Association recently published a study taking a closer look at the growing number of mothers taking painkillers and the babies born that are addicted to drugs.

On average, a child is born every hour in the U.S., addicted to a class of painkillers called opiates.

By 2009, there were more than 13,000 babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), a withdrawal syndrome that occurs in some babies after being exposed to opiates, while in utero, according to the study.

Even more startling, that one-baby-per-hour figure marks about a three-fold increase in the number of babies born with NAS since 2000; and during the same time period, opiate use among expectant mothers was also jumping, increasing nearly five-fold.

Dr. Jonathan Fanaroff at Cleveland’s Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital told HLN’s Dr. Drew, “These babies are shaking. They are clenched up. They’re vomiting. They have diarrhea. They just look miserable and cranky -- not at all what a baby should look like.”

He adds, “When we know mom has been on medications, we can watch the baby longer in the hospital. We can start treatment earlier. When we don't know and the baby goes home and has a problem after they go home -- that’s when the baby gets into trouble ... getting moms into treatment programs and acknowledging the problem is the first step.”

Watch Dr. Drew Monday through Thursday at 9 p.m. ET on HLN and follow the show on Twitter @DrDrewHLN.

CNN Medical Producer Stephanie Smith contributed to this report

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