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January 29, 2019

Structural Factors Shape the Effects of the Opioid Epidemic on Pregnant Women and Infants

Author Affiliations
  • 1Rural Health Research Center, Division of Health Policy and Management, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
  • 2Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • 3Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
JAMA. 2019;321(4):352-353. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.20395

To fully understand the effects of the opioid epidemic on families and communities across the United States, the broader context in which drug use is occurring must be considered. In this issue of JAMA, Patrick and colleagues1 present evidence showing the connection between community capacity and neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), which is one effect of the opioid epidemic. Neonatal abstinence syndrome is a condition associated with exposure to opioids in utero that results in hyperirritability at birth, feeding difficulty, respiratory problems, and sometimes the separation of mother and infant during a critical period of bonding. Neonatal abstinence syndrome is treatable,2 and cases left untreated may result in serious illness such as seizures and even death.

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