There are few things more tragic than drug addicted mothers and their babies. Babies born to addicted mothers may suffer consequences the rest of their lives. Many babies that are born to addicted mothers begin life with drugs already in their system, or with withdrawal symptoms of drugs.
In spite of all the evidence and knowledge we have about pregnancy, the number of babies being born in the United States who are addicted to opioids has tripled in a 15-year stretch. This is according to Statnews.com. They gathered hospital data and used findings from a report that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released regarding data on drug addicted pregnant women. This report reveals an urgent need for public health efforts to help pregnant women deal with addiction.
The CDC found that cases of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) jumped to 6 per 1,000 hospital births in 2013, up from 1.5 per 1,000 in 1999. The data came from 28 states with publicly accessible data on opioid usage.
NAS may occur when a pregnant woman takes drugs such as heroin, codeine, oxycodone (Oxycontin), methadone or buprenorphine. These all put babies at high risk of seizures, respiratory problems, feeding difficulties, low birth weight, or death, according to Medline Plus.
Drug Addicted Pregnant Women – Growing bellies and Growing Problems.
The CDC report shows that states worst impacted by drug addicted pregnant mothers are Maine, Vermont, and West Virginia. Statnews.com reported that In West Virginia, 33.4 of every 1,000 babies had withdrawal symptoms in 2013. In addition, almost every state saw a rise in the number of addicted pregnant women.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, using drugs, alcohol, or tobacco during pregnancy exposes woman and their developing fetus to substances. Substance abuse can have lifelong effects on babies. Smoking during pregnancy can increase risk of stillbirth, infant mortality, sudden infant death syndrome, preterm birth, respiratory problems, slowed fetal growth, and low birth weight. Drinking during pregnancy can lead to the child developing fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, characterized by low birth weight and enduring cognitive and behavioral problems.
Drug Addicted Pregnant Women – Treatment Options Are Needed.
The fact that more babies are being born with NAS, to opiate addicted mothers show a need for proper treatment programs. Some states do have specialized, funded facilities for this specific group. However, beds are often in very high demand, and are limited. Pregnant addicted women who are unable to find the support they need to get off drugs may end up using throughout the length of their pregnancy.
The FDA states that National guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and international guidelines from the World Health Organization (WHO), recommend that pregnant women with opioid addiction be treated with methadone or buprenorphine.
According to these guidelines, the rationale for Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) during pregnancy is to prevent complications of opioid abuse, addiction and withdrawal, and encourage prenatal care and drug treatment.
One thing remains pretty clear: until this national opioid epidemic is stemmed, the number of addicted and suffering babies will likely continue to grow, as will the number of drug addicted pregnant women.