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May 9, 2012

Epidemic of Prescription Opiate Abuse and Neonatal Abstinence

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Psychology, University of Maine, Orono, and Department of Pediatrics, Eastern Maine Medical Center and Psychiatry, Acadia Hospital, Bangor, Maine (Dr Hayes); and Department of Pediatrics, Eastern Maine Medical Center, Bangor (Dr Brown).

JAMA. 2012;307(18):1974-1975. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.4526

In this issue of JAMA, Patrick et al1 describe the effects on newborn infants of the widespread availability of prescription opiate medications. These medications provide superior pain control for cancer and chronic pain, but have been overprescribed, diverted, and sold illegally, creating a new opiate addiction pathway and a public health burden for maternal and child health.2 Overdose mortality and dependence rates are highest among disadvantaged, young adults in rural areas (eg, Maine and Kentucky).3