Fact and fiction about Maine’s drug-affected babies

March 18th, 2014 by admin Leave a reply »

Maine’s increase in substance-exposed births has received a lot of coverage lately. Gov. Paul LePage unveiled his plan to address the issue last week. Much of the focus of recent coverage is related to Maine’s troubling opioid abuse rate, the highest in the nation. Opioids include prescription narcotic painkillers as well as heroin and its relatives.

We can solve this public health problem if we come together as a community and gain a greater understanding of the issue. First, let’s separate fact from fiction.

Fact: 927

There were 927 drug-affected baby notifications last year. Sadly, that is a fact. But the situation is more complex than a number.

What might have been reported as a drug-affected baby by one hospital might not have been reported as such by another.

The number 927 may include infants affected by alcohol, legally prescribed medications, marijuana and other illegal drugs. It may include infants of mothers who tell their physician they used marijuana or consumed alcohol before they knew they were pregnant. It may include infants of mothers taking legally prescribed medication under a doctor’s supervision to manage medical conditions.

Policy makers and providers are working together to clarify guidelines and make reporting consistent.

The 927 drug-affected births represent about 7 percent of Maine births in 2013. At Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, there were 308 substance-exposed infant reports in 2011, approximately 19 percent of births at EMMC that year. Of those, 173 included an opioid as at least one of the substances.

Fiction: drug-addicted babies


Article source: http://bangordailynews.com/2014/03/18/opinion/fact-and-fiction-about-maines-drug-affected-babies/?ref=OpinionBox