A federal report finds the problem with pregnant women abusing opioids and other prescription drugs is worse in rural farm states like Iowa than in more populous urban states.

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy says the problem is only continuing to grow as more babies are born with symptoms of opioid withdrawal.

“This is a real tragedy,” Doctor Murthy says. “I’ve visited hospitals and heard from neonatal ICU nurses and doctors and about how heartbreaking it has been to see children who are withdrawing from opioids in the first hours and days of their lives.” A new report found five out of every one-thousand births in urban areas involve babies suffering from opioid withdrawal symptoms due to the mother’s abuse, while in rural areas, the figure rises to eight in every thousand. He says women with addictions owe it to their unborn babies to seek help immediately.

Murthy says, “Treatment can help pregnant women who are dealing with addiction to opioids and it can reduce the liklihood their children will have adverse affects when they’re born.” The trouble is, rural areas may offer few treatment facilities, if any. Murthy says the first step is for the mothers to admit they have a problem.

(Thanks to Karla James, Omaha)