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
0

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.


No politics please for Baghdad bikers aiming to unite Iraq

Updated 21 January 2019
0

No politics please for Baghdad bikers aiming to unite Iraq

  • The Iraq Bikers — who now number 380 — are men of all ages, social classes and various faiths
  • With his black bandana and goatee, the leader of the Baghdad pack, known as “Captain,” looks the epitome of the American biker-outlaw

BAGHDAD: Roaring along Baghdad’s highways, the “Iraq Bikers” are doing more than showing off their love of outsized motorcycles and black leather: they want their shared enthusiasm to help heal Iraq’s deep sectarian rifts.
Weaving in and out of traffic, only the lucky few ride Harley Davidsons — a rare and expensive brand in Iraq — while others make do with bikes pimped-up to look something like the “Easy Rider” dream machines.
“Our goal is to build a brotherhood,” said Bilal Al-Bayati, 42, a government employee who founded the club in 2012 with the aim of improving the image of biker gangs and to promote unity after years of sectarian conflict.
That is why the first rule of his bikers club is: you do not talk about politics.
“It is absolutely prohibited to talk politics among members,” Bayati told Reuters as he sat with fellow bikers in a shisha cafe, a regular hangout for members.
“Whenever politics is mentioned, the members are warned once or twice and then expelled. We no longer have the strength to endure these tragedies or to repeat them,” he said, referring to sectarian violence.
With his black bandana and goatee, the leader of the Baghdad pack, known as “Captain,” looks the epitome of the American biker-outlaw.
But while their style is unmistakably US-inspired — at least one of Bayati’s cohorts wears a helmet emblazoned with the stars and stripes — these bikers fly the Iraqi flag from the panniers of their machines.
The Iraq Bikers — who now number 380 — are men of all ages, social classes and various faiths. One of their most recent events was taking part in Army Day celebrations.
Some are in the military, the police and even the Popular Mobilization Forces, a grouping of mostly Shiite militias which have taken part in the fight to oust Islamic State from Iraq in the last three years.
“It is a miniature Iraq,” said member Ahmed Haidar, 36, who works with an international relief agency.
But riding a chopper through Baghdad is quite different from Route 101. The bikers have to slow down at the many military checkpoints set up around the city to deter suicide and car bomb attacks.
And very few can afford a top bike.
“We don’t have a Harley Davidson franchise here,” said Kadhim Naji, a mechanic who specializes in turning ordinary motorbikes into something special.
“So what we do is we alter the motorbike, so it looks similar ... and it is cheaper.”