Substance abuse is a serious public health problem in the United States. Statistics suggest that more than 20 million Americans are current or former drug addicts. According to the National Institute on Drug abuse (NIDA), the impact of drugs on health and productivity of the citizens cost the country in excess of $18 billion.
Drug use or abuse has multiple adverse effects on the health of the addict. And if the addict is an expecting mother, her habit can badly impact the unborn child in her womb. Fetus exposed to drugs inside the womb are at risk of various health problems. In fact, the mother’s addiction can get transferred to the infant right at the time of fetal development.
According to the latest findings, 80 percent of the babies of women who are hooked on drugs like heroin, OxyContin, etc. are born addicts. Even if these mothers take proper dietary and health care during pregnancy, their babies show abnormal signs and symptoms that make them difficult to handle. These babies are often called the “drug babies,” with drug problems beginning for them during fetal development. They face a multitude of development problems, creating a future dependence on treatment centers for drug addiction.
Addiction to drugs during pregnancy can result in miscarriage, premature labor, placental abruption, premature babies and fetal death. Babies born to drug addicts are often difficult to soothe. They usually need a dark environment to keep calm. Drug babies face problems like sleeplessness, diarrhea, irritability and they need to be held more often than normal babies do.
Different drugs have different impacts on babies. For instance, mothers who consume marijuana (weed or dope) have babies with behavioral problems, poor memory and a lack of attentiveness, while addiction to cocaine can cause tremors, sleeplessness, feeding problems and muscle spasms to babies. It may also disrupt cognitive development in a child.
Over the past decade, the number of addicted newborns has tripled, with the number of women taking opioids becoming five times. According to NIDA, there has been a huge rise in neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) cases, with its number going up to 21,732. It is a five-fold increase from 2000 to 2012. It also states that in the U.S. one infant with opiate syndrome is born every 25 minutes. As per a 2012 study by NIDA, babies suffering from NAS needed to be at the hospital for about 16.9 days, while a normal baby just required 2.1 days at the hospital. Thus, the post-delivery hospital costs for newborns with NAS were reported to be about $66,700, against $3,500 spent on normal babies.
A lot of effort is needed to spread awareness about neonatal abstinence syndrome, especially among women addicted to opioids and other substances. They need to be educated about the harmful effects of drug addiction or drug abuse and its impact on pregnancies and deliveries.
If you or your loved one is addicted to any drug, be it any prescription medication or substances like heroin or cocaine, you may get in touch with the 24/7 Recovery Helpline for information on the best substance abuse treatment centers. You may call at our 24/7 helpline number (855) 441-4405 or chat online for expert advice on various addiction treatment centers.