NIH to study babies affected by opioids

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The National Institutes of Health is funding a new study on babies born with opioid withdrawal syndrome, a side effect of the nation’s epidemic of prescription painkillers and heroin.

The number of newborns with this syndrome has increased in recent years, yet there’s a lack of standard, evidence-based treatments for providers, according to an NIH press release announcing the new study on Monday.

“Public health and research communities cannot overlook the opioid epidemic’s effects on pregnant women and their infants,” Diana W. Bianchi, director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), said in the release.


“[The clinical trial] will supplement research on opioids and pregnancy outcomes by addressing critical gaps on how best to treat and manage opioid withdrawal syndrome in newborns,” she said.

Since 1999, the number of deaths from opioid overdoses has quadrupled as the nation grapples with an epidemic hitting both rural and urban areas.

President Trump has created a commission to help curb the crisis. On Aug. 10, Trump told reporters he was drafting paperwork to declare the epidemic a national emergency, though an official declaration has not yet been made.

NICHD’s Neonatal Research Network and NIH’s Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes Program will collaborate on the study.

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