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.
Kozhimannil KB, Admon LK. Structural Factors Shape the Effects of the Opioid Epidemic on Pregnant Women and Infants. JAMA. 2019;321(4):352–353. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.20395
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