Drug-affected babies: Unwitting victims of Maine’s opiate problem

Nearly 800 babies born in Maine last year were exposed to drugs in the womb.

Take one look at the chart in today’s story and it’s clear the problem has only worsened in recent years, as opiate addiction has ballooned into one of Maine’s top public health threats. Prescription painkillers intended to ease the burden of chronic pain have, in too many cases here and across the country, led to even more suffering.

Women of child-bearing age make up a growing portion of Maine’s opiate-addicted residents. For some, learning that they’re pregnant motivates them to get well. Replacement drugs, such as methadone, can thwart the spiral of addiction, but not without consequences for mother, baby, and Maine’s wider population.

For one University of Maine researcher, it begs the question: Should methadone programs incorporate birth control?


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