Pregnancy is a major life event that can be joyful and exciting, but it also comes with its own set of challenges. For pregnant women who are struggling with drug addiction, there is an additional layer of complexity that must be managed.
Expectant mothers have the difficult task of ensuring the wellbeing of their unborn child. Unfortunately, this job has become increasingly complex for many pregnant women who are struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol. Addiction can put both mother and baby in serious danger, as it affects not just physical health but emotional and mental well-being too.
Substance abuse during pregnancy increases the risk of:
- Birth defects
- Premature labor
- Preterm delivery
- Infant mortality
Additionally, it raises the odds that an infant will be born addicted to substances themselves or may suffer from poor growth due to lack of nutrition in utero. For expectant mothers struggling with addiction, seeking help is essential for protecting their own well-being as well as that of their unborn child’s.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)
Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is a serious condition that can occur when a pregnant woman drinks alcohol. It affects the development of the fetus and can have long-term consequences for the baby’s health, growth, and behavior. Symptoms may include physical abnormalities, cognitive deficits, growth deficiencies and behavioral problems.
Physical abnormalities of FAS include abnormal facial features such as small eye openings, short upturned nose with flat midface region, thin upper lip and small head circumference. Cognitive deficits are characterized by lower scores on tests of intelligence quotient (IQ), memory difficulties or learning disabilities. Growth deficiencies involve shorter stature than expected for age as well as slowed rate in gaining weight during infancy and childhood. Behavioral issues range widely but may include difficulties with impulse control or hyperactivity.
Symptoms Of Prenatal Opioid Exposure on a Fetus
Prenatal opioid exposure can have a lasting and detrimental effect on the health of an unborn fetus. Exposure to opioids during pregnancy can lead to serious medical issues that can arise during infancy and continue throughout life. It is important for mothers-to-be to be aware of the possible symptoms associated with prenatal opioid exposure in order to ensure the best health outcomes for their baby.
Common signs of prenatal opioid exposure include: poor growth, low birth weight and an increased risk of premature delivery or stillbirth; respiratory distress syndrome, which leads to difficulty breathing; neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), resulting in feeding difficulties, irritability, tremors and seizures; neurological impairments such as cerebral palsy, learning disabilities and behavioral problems; as well as physical deformities or intrauterine growth restriction.
Treating Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS)
Managing a drug addiction while pregnant can lead to serious risks for the mother and unborn child, such as Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS).
NAS occurs when the fetus is exposed to addictive substances in utero, leading to withdrawal symptoms shortly after birth. To reduce the risk of complications from NAS, medical experts suggest that expectant mothers explore all available options for treating their drug addiction during pregnancy. This includes researching inpatient treatment centers or finding local support groups where women who are battling addiction can receive professional help and guidance.
Drug Therapies for Pregnant Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) Patients
Pregnant women affected by OUD present unique challenges for medical treatment. Drug therapies are available to help manage OUD in pregnant women, however, this is a complex issue that requires careful weighing of risks and benefits.
Medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD) can be an effective form of treatment for pregnant women with OUD. These medications work by blocking the effects of opioids and reducing cravings. They must be used cautiously during pregnancy due to possible side effects or complications that could affect the health of both mother and baby. MOUD can also help prevent relapse and reduce the risk of harm from illicit drugs like heroin or fentanyl.
Tools And Resources For Pregnant Mothers With Addiction
When in an addiction program, it is also important that women can easily communicate with loved ones or have access to support groups and counseling. These types of connections help ensure against relapses and encourage rehab success.
What The Key Findings Show
Scientific evidence that is well supported shows that SUDs may be effectively treated that lead to rates of recurrence no higher than the rates for chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure, asthma, or diabetes. If the patient receives a broad scope of continuing care, recovery is inevitable.
As noted, medications may offer an effective way to treat serious problems with SUD. The FDA has approved three medicines to treat alcohol use disorders and three other medicines to treat people with OUD.
Both SUD and substance misuse can be easily diagnosed through screening processes, with less severe disorders that involve alcohol abuse requiring shorter intervention periods. The main goals and the general management methods for treatment for SUD are identical to the treatment goals of chronic illnesses.
Therefore, the health care provider’s aim is to treat patients so they can overcome their primary symptoms and improve their health at the same time. These objectives stand,, whether a patient is experiencing a co-occuring SUD or another psychiatric condition. The key elements of care include treatment medicines, behavioral therapies, and recovery support services, or RSS.
If you’re pregnant and have an addiction or you have a loved one who is pregnant and is using drugs or alcohol, you need to address the problem immediately. This type of addiction can start a chain reaction – one that can lead to future and ongoing problems that affect a patient’s mental and physical health.