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Doctors voice concern about opioid addiction in women, and the impact on newborns

TAMPA —While the opioid epidemic touches individuals in all types of communities, physicians and researchers are discovering out that painkiller addiction impacts males and women in a different way.

“Opiate use has historically been predominantly by men, but we’ve seen that gap narrow significantly in the past 10 years,” stated Dr. Kelly Dunn, an affiliate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.

Dunn is in Tampa Bay this week becoming a member of different docs from Johns Hopkins and its native All Children’s pediatric hospital for a collection of occasions titled “A Woman’s Journey.” On Wednesday, they spoke to an almost bought out crowd at the Bryan Glazer Family Jewish Community Center in Tampa about the elements that have an effect on women’s health. The main themes: opiate addiction in women, its impact on newborns, developments in genetics and microbiome intestine health.

Women usually tend to expertise unwanted side effects when taking prescription ache killers, like nausea and different delicate illnesses, whether or not they’re taking the medicine as prescribed or over-using it, Dunn stated. Women additionally don’t reply to addiction remedies as favorably as males do, Dunn stated. As such, it could actually take longer for women to recuperate.

“We don’t know why this happens,” Dunn stated. “More women are using opiates but our success in treating them for addiction is not keeping up. It’s a distinct problem that we haven’t tracked much before. It’s unique to find (addiction) problems that are divided by gender.”

At Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, physicians in the maternal, fetal and neonatal institute see two to 4 infants born each day which might be hooked on opiates, stated Dr. Sandra Brooks, affiliate medical director of the neonatal intensive care unit at the hospital.

“They shake, tremble, cry and don’t sleep because they go through withdrawal,” Brooks stated. “These babies don’t grab the headlines because their mothers aren’t street drug addicts injecting drugs. Their mothers could be anyone — a sister, a friend, someone in this room. Opioid use is a slippery slope.”

The long-term results on infants born hooked on opiates is usually unknown as a result of there’s little analysis on the matter. The institute is hoping to vary that, stated Dr. Prabhu Parimi, the institute’s director.

“Our vision is treat at-risk mothers and babies from pre-conception until early childhood,” Parimi stated. “This is a relatively new phenomenon, but we do know that it alters the structure of the brain even before the baby is born.”

Parimi famous that there are not any recognized instances of infants born with seen start defects, nevertheless.

He stated that at-risk moms of youngsters born hooked on medicine, comparable to opioids, require extra care too. But the stigma hooked up to being an addict typically retains them from looking for out medical care till late right into a being pregnant.

“Once a baby is born in the ICU, all we can do is damage control,” Parimi stated.

Dunn’s takeaway message to the hundred or so women who attended Wednesday’s occasion was to be open with their docs about prescription use, in an effort to dismantle the stigma hooked up.

“Tolerance and withdrawal occurs even when patients take drugs as prescribed. It’s a natural occurrence in the body,” she stated. “So patients shouldn’t feel concerned talking to their doctors about it. They’ve done nothing wrong.”

Contact Justine Griffin at or (727) 893-8467. Follow @SunBizGriffin.

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