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Pregnancy and Opioid Addiction

Pregnancy and Opioid Addiction

Alicia Keyes craved root beer floats while pregnant with her second child, Genesis; Victoria Beckham was marmalade-crazed while carrying daughter Harper; and Blake Lively had to have pumpkin ice cream when expecting Ines. As cravings go, they’re not good-nutrition choices. But it could be far worse.

For an ever-increasing number of pregnant women, cravings are for opioids such as heroin and the prescription painkillers fentanyl, oxycodone and hydrocodone. According to a report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), drug use among women before giving birth in the U.S. has increased dramatically. And about 21,000 pregnant women aged 15 to 44 have misused opioids in the past month.

Those women are putting their fetus at risk for placental abruption, preterm labor and death. And 70-95 percent those women’s newborns suffer withdrawal or neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), low birthweight, respiratory complications and risk future brain dysfunction. According to an Australian study by seventh grade more than a third of children with NAS fail to meet test standards in reading, writing, math, spelling and/or grammar.  

Pregnant addicted woman need quality pre- and postnatal care! According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, “pregnant women who are physically dependent on opioids should receive treatment using methadone or buprenorphine … rather than withdrawal management or abstinence.” The National Alliance of Advocates for Buprenorphine Treatment can help you find a doc (www.naabt.org), as can www.samhsa.gov.

This as a health issue, not a moral failing, and we should support and help these women and their babies. 

Medically reviewed in January 2019.

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