Infants are being born with drug dependence at an alarming rate. There are places where up to 25% of newborns in neonatal intensive care units (NICU) are having to be treated for drug withdrawals.
Withdrawal is the bodies response to the abrupt stop of drug use that the body has grown dependent on. It can be painful and dangerous.
Exploding Drug Use
Prescription drug use has exploded in recent years, especially abuse. Often these days pregnant women who are addicted continue to use throughout their pregnancy. This is dangerous for the babies they carry.
Babies can be born addicted because mothers are being treated with methadone though, so it’s not all misuse. They are prepared for potential addiction in those cases. It is sadly also common for pregnant women to be abusing cocaine, heroin, and meth throughout their pregnancy.
One would think a mother would not want to harm their unborn child. But that is what addiction does. It persists beyond all reason.
The CDC says that non-medical use of prescription opioids has become an epidemic in the U.S. Because pain pill abuse is the current trend, many newborns that have withdrawal do so because their mothers abused pain pills.
Not all babies whose mothers are addicts experience adverse effects. Thankfully, some don’t have withdrawal symptoms. This doesn’t mean all is well though. Many babies can have terrible and fatal reactions.
Signs Of Infant Drug Withdrawal
Because of this rising epidemic, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has set new guidelines. These guidelines are for recognizing symptoms of infant drug withdrawal.
If it is suspected that a newborn is going through withdrawal, a newborns urine or meconium is tested. Meconium is a newborns first bowel movement that is usually a dark, tarry bowel movement.
- Shrill Crying
Other symptoms can include birth defects, behavior issues, and slow growth.
Treatment of Drug Withdrawal In Newborns
There are different ways to help treat drug withdrawal in newborns. An approach with other drugs isn’t usually recommended. This can prolong their interaction with drugs. This can also make their hospital stay last longer.
It can also be hard to figure out the right amount of medication for the baby.
It is usually as simple as providing extra comfort and support. This includes making sure there isn’t too much light or sound.