Perhaps one of the most tragic aspects of the opioid epidemic is the fact that adults and teens are not the only subgroup that is falling victim to these addictive drugs. In a cruel twist of fate, babies are being exposed to opioid painkillers in the womb as their mothers continue to consume these substances. According to scientist, as a result of this prenatal exposure, these babies are susceptible to drug dependency and withdrawal after birth, as part of a painful illness called neonatal abstinence syndrome. As a result, these babies will require more in-depth treatment at hospitals and tapering doses of morphine to ensure they can withdraw painlessly. Imagine the horror of hearing these little babies crying weakly and breathing harshly as they purge the drugs from their systems. Let’s take a closer look at the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s (NIDA) confirmation of the risk factors for neonatal abstinence syndrome.

A Matter of Gender

CONFIRMATION OF RISK FACTORS FOR NEONATAL ABSTINENCE SYNDROMEAs part of a recent study sponsored by NIDA, Dr. Katherine Charles and a team of researchers made a particularly interesting discovery. As it turns out, neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) occurs more frequently among male babies than females.  After evaluating records of 100,000 mothers and babies who were given care through the Tennessee Medicaid program, the team found that 927 of these infants suffered from NAS, and boys are 18% more likely to be diagnosed with NAS (24% more likely for lifesaving treatment). Although the researchers have not officially determined the reason for this occurrence, they have proposed that males might be more sensitive to methadone and buprenorphine (drugs for treating opioid use disorder) than their female counterparts.

Buprenorphine Sensitivity

As part of the second study, Dr. Lauren Jansson and a team of researchers from John Hopkins University studied the administration of buprenorphine to 41 mothers during pregnancy and (sometime later) assessed the babies. Ultimately, the scientists confirmed that 24 of these babies required morphine medication for the treatment of NAS. Likewise, the team found that mothers who consumed higher doses of buprenorphine gave birth to tinier babies than the other women. As the John Hopkins team ultimately suggested, healthcare providers should consider methadone treatment as the initial drug for treatment of opioid use disorder and should use this drug to wean mothers of buprenorphine.

Seeking Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder

As we have seen, the Opioid Crisis takes many forms and affects everyone. Not even unborn children are safe from this terrible epidemic. If you are suffering from opioid abuse or addiction of any sort or have a friend who is enduring this terrible problem, get in touch with Asana Recovery today. Our professional team of counselors and healthcare experts will help you endure the painful process detox and withdrawal and guide you through each step of the rehabilitation process to help you separate yourself from these substances.

If you want to find out more about our residential treatment or supervised detoxification/withdrawal programs or enroll in one of these programs today, we are ready and waiting to speak with you at your leisure and your disclosure. Call Asana now at (949) 438-4504 to learn how you can take the first steps toward beating this Opioid Crisis of America.