Heroin addicted babies are suffering withdrawal symptoms every day all across the United States. In fact, every 25 minutes, a baby is born already addicted to heroin or other opiates. The total number of these babies in neonatal intensive care units quadrupled from 2004 to 2013, accounting for more than $1.5 billion a year in health care expenses. The state of Kentucky leads the nation in hospitalizations for drug-dependent newborns with a 48% increase in one year alone.
Not only do many pregnant women use illegal drugs, but they also use legal substances such as alcohol and tobacco. These substances cross the placenta and enter the unborn child’s body. These unfortunate infants will endure painful withdrawals immediately after birth, but they will also encounter long-term effects throughout their lifetime.
Immediate and Long-Term Effects on Heroin Addicted Babies
More than four percent of women in the US use drugs or alcohol or both while pregnant. However, heroin is the number one drug of choice. Although alcohol is the most common cause of preventable birth defects, opiates, amphetamines, methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, Ecstasy, and many others are also known culprits in destroying unborn children’s lives in many ways.
The immediate effects of neonatal exposure to heroin or other substances can cause the following symptoms in a newborn infant:
- Low-grade fever
- Feeding difficulties
- Respiratory distress
- Sensitivity to light and sound
Treatment for these withdrawal symptoms can include narcotics, methadone, or morphine to manage the pain. Rocking and cuddling also have beneficial effects.
Some of the long-term effects of neonatal heroin addiction can include:
- Birth defects
- Behavioral issues
- Growth retardation
- Possibility of substance abuse early in life
Needless to say, these children are born fighting for their very lives and will continue to suffer the effects of having an addicted mother.
Effects of Methadone on an Unborn Child
Some mothers, upon first learning of the pregnancy, immediately stop smoking or drinking to protect the unborn child. Unfortunately, some mothers are unable to stop the powerful drugs such as heroin or cocaine. Therefore, if they want to stop the drug use during pregnancy, methadone is used to manage withdrawal symptoms that can be harmful to the fetus.
Of course, there are risks involved in this approach to treatment during pregnancy, such as abnormally small head size, low birth weight, and withdrawal symptoms. If you are a pregnant woman who is on methadone maintenance, you are strongly advised to contact your physician if you begin to experience withdrawal symptoms, as these can lead to complications or miscarriage.
Sadly, children born today are faced with many challenges and obstacles that weren’t of their doing. They shouldn’t have to face the challenge of drug addiction before they are even a day old.
Learn more about the long term effects heroin addicted babies may have to face in their lifetime. Call our toll-free number today and get help for your heroin addiction before you get pregnant. In this way, you will be improving or saving two lives. If you are ready to begin treatment, call today and let us help you get started on a program designed especially for your needs.