Health & wellness


More babies are born addicted to painkillers

The number of babies addicted to painkillers has increased nearly threefold compared with a decade earlier. Researchers at the University of Michigan reviewed nationwide hospital billing data from 2000 to 2009 for mothers using prescription painkillers at the time of delivery. They also looked at whether the newborns showed withdrawal symptoms to the drugs, a condition known as neonatal abstinence syndrome.

Women were five times more likely to take painkillers during pregnancy compared with a decade ago, which led to a growing number of babies with the syndrome — 1.2 per 1,000 hospital births in 2000 compared with 3.4 in 2009.

Babies with neonatal abstinence syndrome are more likely to have a lower birthweight and experience breathing problems, which may keep them in the hospital longer. The growing number of babies needing to be treated for the syndrome has also led to an increase in state health care costs, since a majority of the babies were on Medicaid, the researchers said.


BOTTOM LINE: More babies are born addicted to painkillers compared with a decade ago.

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CAUTIONS: The researchers relied on billing codes to indicate babies diagnosed with neonatal abstinence syndrome. In some cases, an improper code may have been used. Greater awareness by physicians may have contributed to the increase.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Journal of the American Medical Association, online April 30

Desirable foods may cancel ‘full’ signal

Eating for pleasure rather than to satisfy hunger activates chemicals that increase the desire to eat more, according to Italian researchers. In a small study, they measured hunger-stimulating hormones in eight healthy adults who were full.

During the first session, researchers offered dessert that participants considered desirable. Weeks later, participants were given bread and butter, and milk, which they reported undesirable. Even though participants reported not feeling hungry before each meal, researchers found their hormone levels slightly increased while they ate the favorite dessert and did not change when they ate undesirable food. The findings suggest chemical signals of desiring food for pleasure can override the body’s signal of feeling full.


BOTTOM LINE: Eating for pleasure may trigger hormones that could boost desire to eat more, even if a person is not hungry.

CAUTIONS: The number of participants was small and findings will have to be replicated in larger studies.

Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, May 2012