Newborns Suffering With Increase Use of Opioids During Pregnancy?

Opioids are a group of medications that result in pain relief for a variety of different injuries and medical conditions. The goal is to reduce the overall intensity of pain signals that are sent out from the periphery of the body to the brain.

Once an opioid is taken – the effects of the pain are diminished, the actual cause of the pain has not been addressed.

Opioid includes Heroin and analgesic drugs in the category described below.

But what happens when you take this medication or drug is taken during Pregnancy?

Is it safe?  Essentially this is the million dollar question and the answer is pretty straight forward.

In the U.S – reports indicate that use of Opioids during Pregnancy are anywhere from 15% to 25%. This is a large amount of pregnant females that are using Drugs During Pregnancy or taking medications.  And almost 5% of these women are using heroin during their pregnancy.

NAS or Neonatal abstinence syndrome is a medical condition that is on the rise – it is a serious medical problem for newborns. It can be seen in patients where illegal Narcotics and/or prescriptions Opioids are used prior to birth.

Essentially, the neonate becomes physically dependent on the Opioid and goes through withdrawal once they are delivered since the drug is no longer available to them.

One study showed that methadone itself can lead to serious medical problems and care for the child.

There is an association with first-trimester use of codeine and congenital heart defects.

The CDC or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that around 30% of the young women enrolled in Medicaid and 25% of the young women with private insurance filled opioid prescriptions every year from 2008 through 2012.

The Director of the CDC – Dr. Tom Frieden said, “Many women of reproductive age are taking these medicines and may not know they are pregnant and therefore may be unknowingly exposing their unborn child.”

In addition to the underlying problems to the unborn child – pregnant females using large amounts of opioids during pregnancy and/or heroin are far less likely to be seen for their first and second trimester prenatal care.

Effects of Opioid Exposure

The entire effects on the fetal brain are unknown. But the CNS or Central Nervous System has been studied in rodents.

Neural Tubal and birth defects are a risk in these situations. Even Cognitive impairments have been reported in children and adolescents with mothers who use opioids during pregnancy.

Withdrawal symptoms are often seen in infants and treatment is required in some cases. Preterm labor, low birth weight, Placenta Abruption, fetal distress and even fetal death can be seen.

What is an Opioid?

Medications that fall into the category of Opioids are: hydrocodone (Lortab, Norco, Vicodin), oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet), morphine (Kadian, Avinza)

Hydrocodone is the most commonly prescribed of the class of Opioid medications. They are used for things such as surgery, dental procedures, acute injuries, long term chronic conditions, infections, and much more.

Morphine is used immediately after surgery, serious pain, and more.

OxyContin is an oral medication that is used to treat moderate to severe pain through a slow steady release. Typically considered for pain more than Hydrocodone and less than Morphine.

This class of medications is among some of the oldest known drugs – opium poppy predates recorded history.

Some of the general side effects include: Drowsiness, itching, euphoria, increased sleep, mental confusion, respiratory problems, nausea, constipation, and more.

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