For years now, we’ve known that pregnant women shouldn’t drink or abuse drugs because of possible harm to the fetus. Unfortunately, pregnant women are part of the prescription pill epidemic.
In the May issue of JAMA, The Journal of American Medical Association, a study found a steady increase in pregnant teens’ and women’s use of opiates in the last 10 years. (Opiates include oxycodone [Oxycontin and Percocet], hydrocodone [Vicodin)], morphine, fentanyl and heroin.) In fact, the number increased fivefold, according to an article dissecting the study.
There are so many repercussions… There’s a baby born every minute somewhere in the U.S. exhibiting withdrawal symptoms, which amounts to 13,500 babies a year, or three-fold what it was ten years ago.These babies spend 16 or so days in the hospital, in neonatal intensive care.
Can you imagine the cost? Hospitals try everything, initially trying to soothe them, and if that doesn’t work, then administering methadone, morphine, or the drug the mother was taking, to try and wean them off it. That same article explained that babies born to these mothers have what’s known as neonatal abstinence syndrome in which “babies can have seizures, breathing problems, dehydration, difficulty feeding, and irritability.”
The Associated Press actually got permission to publish the name of one of these babies born and published a picture of her with her mother, who looks very young. The woman switched to methadone early in her pregnancy, the article says. It explains that the babies aren’t truly addicted because they don’t exhibit “drug-seeking behavior.” But they ARE drug-dependent, and they can also have diarrhea and low birth rate and sleep fitfully.
Methamphetamine is not an opiate, it’s a stimulant like crack cocaine, but there can be major problems for babies born to mothers hooked on this drug, too—and far-reaching ones. A study in Pediatrics, reported by the Associated Press on msnbc.com in March, found that these children have a higher incidence of behavior problems, specifically, depression and moodiness, at age 5. One researcher said the differences weren’t huge, but they were worrisome. She also said meth has a more significant effect on the brain, intimating that it stands to reason long-lasting effects are more likely.
One of the articles noted that prevention is always a lot better than having to treat mother and child after the fact. Somehow it seems like preaching to the choir to say that in a newspaper article for some reason. It’s doubtful that these pregnant mothers will get the message this way if they didn’t get it before they got pregnant.
Both these studies are the first of their kind, and the article on the meth study said more research is needed.
Joan added: The public perception is that pot use has no negative consequences on the developing fetus. A new study by the Mount Sinai (NY) School of Medicine, Departments of Psychiatry, Neuroscience, Pharmacology and Therapeutic Systems suggests otherwise. The study, which has just been published in the prestigious journal BIOL PSYCHIATRY says that smoking marijuana during pregnancy can negatively impact the DRD2 “reward” gene which governs the brain’s production of dopamine. Low levels of the “feel good” neurotransmitter are common in addicts, either because they are predisposed to addiction or environmental factors.