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Wednesday February 28, 2024

US fentanyl crisis now causing babies to be born with defects — Here's what you need to know

In the US, fentanyl abuse is driving the recent increase in drug overdose deaths, according to Drug Enforcement Agency

By Web Desk
December 11, 2023
A picture of a baby yawning. — AFP/File
A picture of a baby yawning. — AFP/File

Prenatal fentanyl exposure syndrome has been found to have caused at least ten newborns to be born with numerous malformations and other problems in the United States, according to the latest research.

A recent research published in Genetics in Medicine Open has discovered a new condition associated with moms who used fentanyl while pregnant, exposing their kids to the opioid.

They discovered crucial distinguishing characteristics that indicate the newborns may have the syndrome, such as low height, tiny heads, and congenital malformations such as a cleft palate, club foot, and genital abnormalities.

There is also webbing between the toes, short, wide thumbs, and a single crease in the palms.

The new disease afflicting these newborns is part of a larger fentanyl issue in the United States.

According to House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul, approximately 200 American citizens are murdered every day as a result of fentanyl, which he describes as the "deadliest narcotics epidemic in US history."

Every year, more individuals use and die from the substance, and this probable fentanyl-related condition is the most recent repercussion of this epidemic.

Erin Wadman, a genetic counsellor at Nemours and the study's main author, said she identified the probable new disease when screening a newborn with congenital impairments in August 2022.

"I was sitting there in the appointment, and I was just like, this face looks so familiar. This story sounds so familiar. And I was just thinking about how this patient reminded me so much of a patient I’d seen earlier in the year and then other patients I’d seen," Wadman said to NBC.

"That’s when we were like, we think we might have stumbled on something really big here."