The potential health dangers and risk of addiction posed by prescription opioids like hydrocodone, codeine and oxycodone are well known. However, for pregnant women, the drugs can also endanger their babies. Studies have shown that children whose mothers took opioids during pregnancy were more likely to have birth defects impacting their heart, spine and brain. They also risk developing neonatal abstinence syndrome. A newborn with NAS experiences drug withdrawal symptoms.
Therefore, a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding how many women of childbearing age are taking prescription opioids is particularly disturbing. The CDC found that from 2008 to 2012, over a quarter of women between 15 and 44 years-old with private health insurance filled an opioid prescription. That percentage was even higher (nearly 40 percent) for women enrolled in Medicaid. The data in the report, which was based on health insurance claims, found that opioid prescription rates were highest here in the South than in any other region of the country.