Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Number of Wisconsin babies born addicted to heroin increased 125% from 2009 to 2014

The number of babies born in Wisconsin addicted to heroin increased 125 percent from 2009 to 2014, according to data from the state Department of Health Services and Department of Children and Families, Liz Welter reports for the USA Today Network-Wisconsin. While the numbers are statewide, opiate addiction has become an increasing problem in rural areas, especially some of the state's smallest counties.

A 2015 report by the Wisconsin Division of Public Health found that in 2003 rural areas had zero heroin overdose deaths, but accounted for 31—17 percent of the state's heroin overdose deaths—in 2012. A Wisconsin State Council on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse report using data from 2008-2012 states, "Overdoses in rural areas now account for a significant proportion of all heroin overdoses in the state." (Wisconsin State Council on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse graphic)
Data show that from 2009 to 2012 Wisconsin had 2,362 babies born addicted to heroin, Welter writes. "Since 2008, every county in central Wisconsin has reported growing numbers of heroin-related arrests." Officials cite an increased cracked down on meth production, a rise in physicians restricting the amount of opiate-based pain relievers prescribed and cheaper heroin with the increase in opiate use.

Neonatologist Jamie Limjoco told Welter, "Some of these babies will do just fine, but if a baby goes home with the mother and the mom continues to abuse drugs and the baby is neglected or there are other environmental factors such as second-hand smoke or poor nutrition, it's not a great prognosis." Wisconsin did pass a law in 1997 that says a woman can be arrested for abusing drugs while pregnant, although Limjoco said treatment is usually recommended over incarceration. (Read more)

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