According to The Office Of Women’s Health, from 2000 to 2009, prenatal maternal opioid use increased from 1.19 to 5.63 per 1,000 hospital births per year. The rate of maternal opioid use almost tripled in less than ten years, and the numbers are only rising. Not only is opioid misuse during pregnancy risky for the health of the woman, but it also impacts the health of her unborn child.
If you or a loved one is pregnant and using opiates, contact a healthcare provider immediately. To stop the use of opioids “cold turkey” can cause additional harm to you or the baby. The safer option is to reach out to healthcare professionals who can provide a monitored and secure environment for detox.
The detox process involves the removal of drug toxins from the body, and it is essential for the health of a pregnant woman and unborn child. Undergoing detox from opiates can be safely performed in an outpatient or residential program. The process usually lasts a few days to a few weeks, depending on the severity of the addiction.
Opioid Use During Pregnancy
Using opiates during pregnancy is dangerous for both the mother and the fetus. When you use opioids during pregnancy, the drug passes through the placenta to reach the fetus.
The placenta grows in the uterus, and it supplies the fetus with food and oxygen through the umbilical cord. If the food and oxygen supplied through the umbilical cord are tainted with drugs, the unborn fetus is at risk of developing a variety of side effects alongside the mother. Opioids can also directly reach the fetus through the umbilical cord and put the unborn child at risk for opioid dependence.
If opioids are continued to be used throughout the pregnancy, the unborn fetus will be born with health problems that will require medical attention.
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Effects Of Opioid Abuse And Addiction On An Unborn Child
There are many health problems that can be caused by opioid use during pregnancy. The amount of opioids consumed and the length of opioid use will impact the effects on the unborn child.
Commonly reported fetal health problems and congenital disabilities that result from opioid use in pregnancy include:
- congenital heart defects
- neural tube defects
- neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS)
- preterm labor and premature birth
- fetal growth restriction
- low birth weight
- sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
While not all of these health problems may occur, women who are actively taking opiates while pregnant are putting their unborn children at risk. Unfortunately, the health problems associated with continued drug use for a newborn can last well beyond birth.
Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) in Newborn Babies
Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) is a term for a group of problems a newborn experiences when born dependent on opioids. While each baby may not experience all of these symptoms, a majority of them will develop in children born to opiate-using mothers.
Symptoms of NAS may include:
- tight muscle tone
- hyperactive reflexes
- tremors or trembling
- irritability or excessive crying
- fever or unstable temperature
- high-pitched cry
- yawning, stuffy nose, and sneezing
- sleep problems
- poor feeding and suck
Newborns can experience these severe withdrawal symptoms as they work to rid the toxins from their developing bodies. Treating and stopping opioid use during pregnancy is one of the best methods to avoid or lessen the effects of NAS.
Opioid Effects On A Pregnant Mother
When it comes to opioid use in pregnancy, the unborn child is not the only one at risk for future health concerns. The pregnant woman may actually be more susceptible to the adverse side effects associated with opioid use.
The potential side effects of opioid use while pregnant can include:
- placental abruption
- high blood pressure (hypertension)
- mental health disorders like anxiety or depression
The majority of these side effects will need to be treated in a clinical setting and monitored by healthcare professionals. To avoid these side effects altogether, safely detoxing from opioids is a necessity.
Detoxing Safely From Opioids While Pregnant
Medical detox is the first place to start to detox from opioids safely. For pregnant women, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is safe for both the mother and the unborn child. This process needs to be completed in a treatment facility under the supervision of medical professionals.
MAT that is completed in an inpatient treatment facility, such as The Bluffs, is more comprehensive, has 24-hour supervision, and incorporates medications to alleviate withdrawal side effects and drug cravings.
Common medications used in MAT include methadone and buprenorphine. These drugs help reduce neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) withdrawal symptoms in newborns and combat opiate addiction in the mother. When appropriately used, MAT can safely and effectively help people stop using opiates or other drugs.
Addiction Treatment During Pregnancy
A comprehensive treatment program is necessary for safe addiction treatment in pregnancy. This treatment should include a tailored program dedicated to the care of pregnant women. Attending a treatment facility will guarantee that the mother and child will be monitored and assisted during the detox process.
The Bluffs rehab center in Ohio offers a specialized program for women suffering from opioid abuse and addiction during pregnancy. Treatment at The Bluffs includes therapies that are tailored to the unique needs of pregnant women and provides compassionate care throughout the entire process.
If you or a loved one is pregnant and suffering from opioid addiction, there is help available. Specialized programs like those offered at The Bluffs are an excellent option for mothers who need help. Give us a call today to learn more about this program and others like it. Our addiction treatment specialists are standing by to take your free and confidential call.
- Office On Women’s Health — Final Report: Opioid Use, Misuse, and Overdose in Women
- MedlinePlus — Opiate and Opioid Withdrawal
- Medline Plus — Pregnancy and Opioids
- American Academy of Pediatrics News & Journals — Maternal Use of Opioids During Pregnancy and Congenital Malformations: A Systematic Review
- US National Library of Medicine — Opioid Detoxification During Pregnancy