State rise in opioid use during pregnancy matches local trends

The emergency entrance to Bellin Hospital on October 12, 2017. (Photo credit: WLUK)

GREEN BAY (WLUK) -- Following state and national trends, doctors at Bellin Health are dealing with more pregnant women using opioids.

“If you've ever witnessed a baby with withdrawal, it's really devastating,” said Nicky Plementosh, MD, with Bellin Health Generations. “You can recognize it with a high pitch cry, very irritable, which then in turn affects the feeding and the growth of the baby.”

The state reports, in 2009, for every 1,000 deliveries, five mothers were classified as opioid users. About 3 of every 1,000 babies were diagnosed with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. In 2014, those numbers spiked to 16 mothers and 8 babies per 1,000 deliveries.

“If they're going to use heroin before pregnancy, a lot of times they’re not necessarily going to stop,” said Plementosh.

In response to the opioid epidemic, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is recommending doctors screen women at their first prenatal visit.

Plementosh says some patients are upfront about their drug use.

“Some patients are very vocal about it and will say that they are,” said Plementosh. “If they do say that, we test them. If it's positive, we certainly try to get them into a program to get on some medication.”

Plementosh says reporting opioid use isn't an option because it is part of the patient's medical records. Instead, she says the focus is to monitor the patient and try to get them the help they need.

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