Treating newborns exposed to opioids cost US hospitals $572M+ in 2016

U.S. hospital spending on infants exposed to opioids rose by more than $250 million over four years, according to a study published Dec. 16 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Researchers examined neonatal abstinence syndrome, a withdrawal syndrome mainly in infants exposed to opioids while in utero, and found total hospital costs to treat NAS were $316 million in 2012. In 2016, that number had jumped to $572.7 million.

NAS incidence rates increased from 1.5 per 1,000 hospital births in 2004 to 8 per 1,000 in 2014. In 2016, there were 6.7 cases per 1,000 births, according to the study and cited by CNN.

Newborns with NAS were in the hospital for an average of 15.9 days in 2016, the study found, and cost an average $22,550 per infant, according to CNN.

In 2016, Medicaid paid for 83 percent of hospital births with NAS, the study said, "indicating that state and federal budgets may continue to bear disproportionate costs as the opioid crisis evolves."

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