(HealthDay News) – From 2000–2009, there was a significant increase in the incidence of maternal opioid use and in the diagnosis of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), according to a study published online April 30 in the Journal of the American Medical Association to coincide with presentation at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies, held from April 28–May 1 in Boston.

To investigate and characterize trends in the national incidence of NAS and antepartum maternal opiate use, Stephen W. Patrick, MD, MPH, from the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor, and colleagues identified newborns with NAS from the Kids’ Inpatient Database and identified mothers from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS). NAS-related hospital charges were recorded and adjusted for inflation to 2009 US dollars.

The researchers found that, from 2000 and 2009, the incidence of NAS among newborns increased significantly, from 1.2 to 3.39 per 1,000 hospital births per year, and antepartum maternal opiate use increased significantly, from 1.19 to 5.63 per 1,000 hospital births per year. Based on 2009 data, compared with all other hospital births, newborns with NAS were significantly more likely to have low birth weight (19.1% vs. 7%), have respiratory complications (30.9% vs. 8.9%), and be covered by Medicaid (78.1% vs. 45.5%). For discharges with NAS, the mean hospital charges increased significantly, from $39,400 in 2000 to $53,400 in 2009 for discharges with NAS.

“Between 2000 and 2009, a substantial increase in the incidence of NAS and maternal opiate use in the United States was observed, as well as hospital charges related to NAS,” the authors write.

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