US Health authorities are looking into a possible link between prescription opioids and a terrible birth defect.
Babies born with the defect have their bowels hanging through a hole in the abdominal wall. Surgery is often required to correct the problem.
Approximately 1,800 cases are reported each year in the United States, but the number is increasing.
A study published Thursday indicates that cases are 60% more common in counties that prescribe larger amounts of opioids. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is focusing it’s efforts on 20 states to determine if there is an actual link.
The study does not say that opioids caused birth defects, but replicates previous research that found an increased risk of birth defects when moms were taking opioid analgesics, such as oxycodone, just before or at the beginning of pregnancy.
Besides prescription opioids, opioids in general have become a real health crisis in the United States and Canada. A week ago, it was reported that for the first time in the history of statistics in the United States, the risk of dying from an opioid overdose is greater than that of dying in a car accident. This conclusion comes from an analysis conducted by the National Safety Council (NSC), which analyzed the numbers of preventable injuries and deaths in 2017.
By looking at different data at the federal and national levels, the NSC estimates the probability of one out of ninety-six chance of dying from an overdose, over a lifetime. In terms of car accidents, the odd is one out of 103 and in the case of a fall, one out of 114. The risk of dying from suicide remains the highest with one chance out of eighty-eight.
“Too many people still think that the opioid crisis is abstract and will not affect them. Many do not yet see it as a major threat to them or their families,” said Maureen Vogel, spokesperson for the National Safety Council.
In 2016, unintentional injuries were the leading cause of death in the United States with more than 61,000 victims aged 1 to 44 years. Virtually twice as much as cancer or a heart condition. The (CDC) notes that the majority of these deaths were due to a car accident or accidental poisoning.
In 2017, overdose deaths reached a new peak, surpassing 70,000 victims. “What began more than two decades ago as a public health problem, primarily for young, middle-aged white men, is now an epidemic of prescription or illicit opioid abuse, which has repercussions on every slice of American society,” says the research team.
A report released in December reveals that in 2016, fentanyl dethroned heroin as the most abused drug during an overdose in the United States.
In Canada, for the first time in decades, life expectancy could decline in the country due to over-consumption of opioids such as illegal fentanyl. But the crisis originated behind the closed doors of doctors, according to experts.
“The demand for illegal opioids was created 10, 15 years ago by the phenomenon of over-prescription by our medical system,” says Benedikt Fischer, a researcher at Toronto’s Center for Addiction and Mental Health.
At the end of 2018, a study by the National Public Health Agency of Canada showed that 10 people die every day in Canada from an illegal drug overdose.
The increasing number of overdoses and the more than 8,000 deaths associated with opioid use since 2016 are tragic and unacceptable realities, says the Chief Administrator of the National Public Health Agency, Theresa Tam, in the report.