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Babies and Addiction: Growing Trend Not Looking Good

Posted on :  July 24th, 2015  |  By :  towardsrecovery

With the upward trend in addiction to pain medication and opioids, adults are not the only ones who are addicted. Newborn babies are also addicted. The numbers of babies being born with an addiction to an opioid has grown significantly with at least 15 times more babies being born with addictions than there were 20 years ago. This shows how many mothers are involved in using or abusing opioids or pain medication while they are pregnant. Sadly, this results in innocent babies being born with the struggles of withdrawal. This also shows how many mothers should be put on Methadone to help them fight the urge to take opioids while they are pregnant especially since Methadone has been shown to decrease the number of babies born with addiction symptoms.

It is easy to recognize opioid withdrawal symptoms in infants. The symptoms are officially called neonatal abstinence syndrome, which comes from the being addicted to drugs like morphine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, or even heroin. The symptoms can include diarrhea and vomiting, which can result in dehydration. They also include seizures, shaking, and muscle spasms. These problems can all be accompanied by high fevers and substantial crying. Babies as young as two weeks of age can show symptoms.

Doctors are working with mothers who are addicted or could develop an addiction to painkillers to help decrease the number of babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome. Some doctors have noticed that babies are not only being born with withdrawal symptoms, but those with mothers who are addicted to painkillers are also showing an increase in birth defects. Some of the other problems doctors are seeing include premature birth and low birth weight along with problems in the spinal cord, brain, and heart.

Some hospitals in the United States are seeing nearly 100 babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome over the course of one year. This increase has spurred efforts for doctors to begin working with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and with mental health professionals to help lower the number and reduce the number of birth defects.

Nearly 25 percent of babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome need to be treated with opioids like morphine. They also need to be treated for their seizure symptoms, too. Babies usually need to stay in neonatal units and many stay for over a month while being treated. Keep in mind that these are newborn infants who ideally should be home bonding with their parents instead of being treated for drug addiction.

Sadly, most of the babies who are being treated for their own addictions have mothers who are also being treated for their addictions. Most of these women do not have quality jobs that help them pay for treatment, especially in the United States. There are usually issues with parental custody because the mothers cannot provide a home for their babies, so many of them end up being wards of the court and they begin their time in foster care. Due to the lack of maternal bonding, these young babies miss out on a vital stage of infancy which affects their mental health and cognitive development for the rest of their lives.

To prevent these unfortunate beginnings for these innocent babies, medical professionals and mental health professionals believe that the mothers should be placed in treatment programs if they test positive for opioids while pregnant. Currently, the numbers of pregnant women in drug treatment programs is too low when compared to the number of babies being born with opioid addictions. Early and regular intervention is a sure way to help prevent babies being born with neonatal abstinence syndrome.

If you need any help to get a loved one into treatment, you can visit a treatment center like Towards Recovery Clinic. If you have any questions or you want to visit us, please contact us at our head office at 905-527-2042.

Who We Serve ?

  • Individuals using/abusing street narcotics (e.g. heroin).
  • Patients abusing prescription narcotics(i.e., Codeine, Talwin, Percocet/Percodan, Dilaudid, Morphine or Demerol, et cetera).
  • Individuals displaying any of the following behaviours: Compulsive drug use or drug seeking/craving.
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