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Helping The Fight Against Opioid Addiction For Mothers And Babies

posted by Alicia Caramenico

on May 12, 2016

Dozens of bills to curtail opioid abuse hit the House floor during what’s been called “Opioid Week.” In addition to Congress taking action, health plans are combating this national health epidemic with various programs and resources designed to treat opioid addiction and prevent future opioid addiction.

As the epidemic grows, it’s become clear that it is affecting the health of mothers and their babies. Every 25 minutes, a baby is born suffering from opiate withdrawal, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. To keep mothers and infants healthy, UPMC Health Plan, along with Community Care Behavioral Health Organization, created the Pregnancy Recovery Center (PRC) at Magee Women’s Hospital of UPMC.

“What we were seeing was an ever-increased number of patients who were addicted to opioids coming here to deliver. And we saw these numbers increasing every year,” program director Dr. Dennis English recently told CBS News.

PRC is an outpatient program that provides medical support and counseling for pregnant women struggling with an opioid addiction. Providing comprehensive care helps reduce cravings, prevent illicit use, and minimize fetal exposure. Without such treatment, up to 80 percent of babies of opiate users are born addicted, CBS News noted.

PRC treated 73 women for opiate use disorders during its first year in 2014, and only 35 percent of the infants born to those women needed treatment for withdrawal symptoms. What those results show is that efforts like the PRC can improve outcomes for mothers and their infants and help in the fight to prevent addiction and deaths attributed to opioids.