I am so angry and have been since when I researched the bones of this article. I feel so despondent as well as such empathy, for the insane number of expectant moms and innocent unborn babies suffering through opioid addiction. I can think of nothing sadder. Opioid drugs and their abuse is becoming one of the most serious problems in this world.
With the United States in the midst of an unprecedented opioid epidemic, pregnant women all over the country are in dire straits. Help for pregnant women struggling with addiction can be hard to come by. In many areas, the stigma that surrounds medication-assisted treatment is double for expectant mothers, since they are seen as being responsible for two lives. Seeking drug treatment often leads to situations that exacerbate feelings of guilt and shame. Your kids can be taken by the fearsome organization Child Protective Services (CPS) Plus, addicted mom can end up behind bars.
The following information as been researched through Vice News and The March of Dimes…
What Opioids do to Your Baby
Using opioids during pregnancy can cause a multitude of frightening problems for your baby, including:
Neonatal abstinence syndrome (also called NAS). NAS happens when a baby is exposed to a drug in the womb before birth and goes through withdrawal from the drug after birth. NAS most often is caused when a woman takes opioids during pregnancy. NAS can cause serious problems for a baby, like being born too small and having breathing problems. Even if you use an opioid exactly as your health care provider tells you to, it may cause NAS in your baby. So tell your prenatal care provider about any opioid you take.
The staggering rise of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, or NAS, the medical term for babies who experience withdrawal, has overwhelmed the medical system, and many intensive care units for newborns are at capacity. The rate of NAS has soared by 400 percent nationally since 2000. One baby is born with the syndrome every 25 minutes. It’s especially grim in Kentucky, where one out of every 50 newborns has NAS.
NAS babies typically begin to show signs of opioid withdrawals a day or two after birth. Much like adults experiencing withdrawals, they tend to be extremely irritable. They cry relentlessly, wake up easily, and refuse to eat. They have vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, sweating, tremors, sneezing, congestion, and fevers. They can die from dehydration or other complications, though fatalities are extremely rare in a hospital setting.
- Birth defects, including heart defects. Birth defects are health conditions that are present at birth. Birth defects change the shape or function of one or more parts of the body. They can cause problems in overall health, how the body develops, or in how the body works.
- Premature birth. This is birth that happens too early, before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Babies born early may have more health problemsat birth and later in life than babies born full term.
- Preterm labor. This is labor that starts too early, before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Quitting opioids suddenly (going cold turkey) during pregnancy can cause preterm labor. Preterm labor can lead to premature birth.
- Stillbirth. This is the death of a baby in the womb after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
- The withdrawal of opioids in the third trimester often leads to premature labor.
- When opioids are regularly consumed during pregnancy, they can lead to spontaneous abortion.
- Opioids use can cause neurological and heart problems in the baby.
- Regular use of opioids during pregnancy (and their sudden withdrawal) can lead to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, rhinorrhea (runny nose), and runny eyes. Additionally, they can cause insomnia and anxiety. Further, consequences of opioid use and their withdrawal can include abdominal cramps, uterine irritability, preterm labor, fetal hypoxia, and fetal death.
If you’re not pregnant and you’re using opioids, use effective birth control until you’re ready to get pregnant. This can help prevent complications when you do get pregnant.
Opioids are extremely potent and can often lead to addiction. This situation becomes even more severe when the pregnant women are involved. Regular usage of opioids can have serious effects on the baby and the mother. Additionally, even sudden withdrawal of opioids can lead to severe complications, and they usually start 6 to 24 hours after withdrawal.
However, some opioids are not damaging for mother and baby’s health if occasionally taken in the minimal dosages. The best thing to do is to consult your doctor and be very honest about your addiction.
The number of newborns diagnosed with neonatal abstinence syndrome nearly tripled in 10 years due to increasing* opiate use among pregnant women, a new study shows.
The bottom line: Don’t do opioids if you’re expecting. Detox from opioids before you get pregnant. You will save yourself and your baby from its dangerous effects on your bodies and mind.