US sees spike in pregnant women addicted to painkillers

In this file photo taken on August 5, 2010 a pregnant woman walks outside the State Department in Washington, DC. (AFP)
Updated 10 August 2018
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US sees spike in pregnant women addicted to painkillers

  • Most of the deaths involved opioid painkillers, many taken in combination with anti-anxiety drugs
  • Women who abuse opioids while pregnant risk maternal death, preterm birth, and stillbirth

TAMPA: Over the past 15 years, the United States has seen a fourfold increase in pregnant women addicted to painkillers, the latest troubling statistic in an ongoing epidemic of opioid abuse, officials said Thursday.
The report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is the first major national study of its kind and revealed “significant increases in the 28 states with available data” from 1999 to 2014.
“These findings illustrate the devastating impact of the opioid epidemic on families across the US, including on the very youngest,” said CDC Director Robert Redfield.
“Untreated opioid use disorder during pregnancy can lead to heartbreaking results.”
Women who abuse opioids while pregnant risk maternal death, preterm birth, and stillbirth. Their babies, if born alive, are often addicted to the potent drugs themselves and must go through a period of painful withdrawal known as neonatal abstinence syndrome.
“Opioid use by pregnant women represents a significant public health concern,” said the CDC report.
Nationwide, the rate of women with “opioid use disorder” arriving at hospitals to deliver their babies “increased from 1.5 per 1,000 delivery hospitalizations in 1999 to 6.5 in 2014,” it said.
The report did not specify what kinds of opioids the women were using.
The United States is grappling with a surging epidemic of opioid abuse — including painkillers like OxyContin and street drugs like heroin — which took more than 42,000 lives in 2016.
The CDC said excessive prescribing practices by doctors could be a factor in opioid abuse, and called for increased efforts to prevent women from becoming addicted and help them get treatment.


Baghdad gun shops thrive after Iraqi rethink on arms control

Updated 19 August 2018
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Baghdad gun shops thrive after Iraqi rethink on arms control

  • Shop owner sees increasing demand from women, says self-defence is main reason for buying
  • Customer says legalized gun sales will act as crime deterrent

BAGHDAD: In the middle of Baghdad’s busy commercial neighborhood of Karrada, where most retail outlets sell home appliances, shoppers can now also buy handguns and semi-automatic rifles legally for the first time in decades.
After the toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003, illegal weapons trade flourished across the country. Looted guns from ransacked police stations and military bases were sold in streets and public areas to residents seeking to protect themselves in a state that was largely lawless.
The authorities have since been battling to curb illegal weapon sales and the government has stepped up efforts to control gun ownership through regulation.
The latest initiative came into force this summer and allows citizens to own and carry handguns, semi-automatic rifles and other assault weapons after obtaining official authorization and an identity card that also details the individual’s weapons.
Previously, gun sales were restricted to firearms for hunting and sport.
Hamza Maher opened his new gun shop in Karrada after receiving official approval from the Interior Ministry and says there has been growing demand for his wares.
“Customers are mainly men, but the number of women buyers is growing,” said Maher inside his shop, where a variety of pistols and assault rifles are on display.
“The reason for buying is self-defense, and it’s safer for citizens to buy a weapon from an authorized store instead of from an unknown source.”
Pistol prices in Maher’s shop range from $1,000 to $4,000, while Kalashnikov assault rifles can be had from as little as $400 up to $2,000, depending on the brand and manufacturing origin, he said.
Haider Al-Suhail, a tribal sheikh from Baghdad, welcomed the legalization of gun stores.
“Yes, it will decrease crime,” he said on a visit to Maher’s shop to buy assault rifles for his ranch guards. “The criminal who plans to attack others will understand that he will pay heavy price.”