HealthDay News — Overall, 0.64% of total infant deaths have drug involvement, with drugs the underlying cause of death in 37% of these cases, according to the June 3 National Vital Statistics Reports, a publication from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Danielle M. Ely, PhD, from the National Center for Health Statistics in Hyattsville, Maryland, and colleagues describe drug-involved infant deaths in the United States for 2015 to 2017 using data from the National Vital Statistics System drug-involved mortality files and linked birth/infant death files.

The researchers found that 442 (0.64%) of the 68,609 total infant deaths in the United States had drug involvement from 2015 through 2017. Methamphetamine, opioids, cocaine, opioid treatment drugs such as methadone or naloxone, and cannabis or cannabinoids were the drugs most frequently mentioned. Compared with mothers of infants who died of all other causes, those of infants who died of drug-involved causes were more likely to be non-Hispanic White, be aged 35 to 39 years, have a high school degree or less, use Medicaid for payment for delivery, and receive late or no prenatal care. Of the 442 drug-involved infant deaths, drugs were the underlying cause of death and contributing cause of death for 37 and 63%, respectively.

“The findings in this report may help identify risk factors for drug-involved infant deaths and inform efforts to reduce these preventable deaths,” the authors write.

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