Pregnancy is the most crucial stage in a woman’s life. When pregnant, a woman is asked to take extra care because the wellbeing of the unborn is entirely upon her. Therefore, moms-to-be are required to take a healthy diet and lead a stress-free life. It is believed that the unborn sees the world through its mother’s eyes, so a pregnant woman is asked to stay positive, be in good environment and, most importantly, stay away from any kind of addiction.
Mother’s addiction can have a direct impact on the health of the unborn. Studies have shown that most birth defects are a direct result of the mothers’ addiction to either drugs or alcohol. A woman who continues to take drugs or alcohol even during pregnancy may be the root cause of premature births, stillborn babies, incurable birth defects and so on.
High rate of NAS in rural communities
When a baby is exposed to opioids or heroin while in utero, he or she is vulnerable to withdrawal symptoms, collectively known as Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). According to a recent study titled “Rural and Urban Differences in Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome and Maternal Opioid Use, 2004 to 2013,” published in JAMA Pediatrics in December 2016, the rate of babies being born with NAS increased approximately five folds during 2000-2012, in the United States.
The researchers revealed that the cases of NAS in rural counties increased from nearly one case per 1,000 hospital births in 2003-2004 to 7.5 cases per 1,000 births by 2013. The increase was estimated to be 80 percent higher than the growth of condition recorded in the urban areas.
“Incidence rates for NAS and maternal opioid use increased nearly 5-fold in the United States between 2000 and 2012.1 Previous studies suggest the incidence of NAS may be increasing rapidly in some rural states,2 in parallel with rising rural rates of other opioid use–related conditions including hepatitis C and overdose deaths,” said the researchers.
The high rate of opioid addiction among pregnant women in rural communities can be attributed to the frequent prescription of painkillers by the doctors. Substantiating the prescription of opioids to mothers-to-be to treat back pain or abdominal pain, a 2014 study suggested that nearly 42 percent of pregnant women in Utah and 35 percent in Idaho were prescribed opioids.
Excessive use of painkillers during pregnancy leads to addiction
NAS are the withdrawal symptoms experienced by the newborn, when removed from chronic environment of drugs and alcohol. The symptoms of NAS can be noticed in the newborn immediately within 24-48 hours after the birth. It has been found that most mothers develop an addiction to opioids due to the regular painkillers prescribed to them to combat the pain and discomfort associated with pregnancy. These drugs eventually enter the fetus via the bloodstream.
The common NAS symptoms include diarrhea, excessive high-pitched crying, high fever, sweating, irritability, vomiting, hyperactive reflexes, abnormal sucking reflex and rapid heart rate. However, there is always a risk of withdrawal turning out to be fatal, causing long-term complications in the form of poor intrauterine growth, premature birth, seizures and birth defects.
Seeking professional help
Just like addiction, NAS is also a preventable condition. An addiction is a disease that needs to be treated. Though timely treatment is imperative for complete recovery, the support of family members and loved ones cannot be ignored.
If you know someone who is pregnant and addicted to prescription drugs, contact the Prescription Drug Abuse Helpline to find the best prescription drug abuse treatment centers in U.S.A. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-450-1557 or chat online with our representatives to know more about the best prescription drug abuse treatment centers in your area.