A Sky News investigation has learned that the number of babies born with drug addictions has quadrupled in the US in the past ten years. Seven out of every thousand babies were born with drug addictions in 2004, but less than ten years later in 2013, that figure had risen to twenty-seven out of every thousand.
The New England Journal of Medicine, where the numbers were recorded, also revealed that babies are taking longer to be weaned from the drugs, and they now spend up to nineteen days receiving treatment for addiction.
The epidemic has been attributed to the rise in the number of prescription medications being taken by expectant mothers. Dr Paul Winchester from Indianapolis’s St Francis Hospital told Sky News that pharmaceutical companies are fuelling a ‘war on pain’, which is leading to many mothers on low incomes developing addictions. He said these mothers often cannot afford to pay for their prescriptions and will then turn to street drugs instead to feed their habits.
Most people are aware of what should be avoided in pregnancy, and this includes foods such as soft cheeses, liver, raw eggs, raw fish, and rare meat. Substances such as alcohol and drugs should also be avoided, as should many prescription medications. During pregnancy, the unborn baby is connected directly to the mother through the umbilical cord. This means that everything the mother consumes will pass directly to the baby, including substances such as drugs. Those who smoke, take drugs, or drink alcohol while pregnant are putting their unborn babies at risk.
It used to be a widely held belief that small quantities of alcohol were safe for pregnant women and that these amounts would not harm the baby. However, today, many experts say that the best way to protect the baby is to avoid alcohol altogether.
Those who drink heavily while pregnant risk a host of problems to their child including foetal alcohol syndrome and low birth weight. Foetal alcohol syndrome can cause stunted growth, abnormal facial features, hyperactivity, learning difficulties, low IQ, vision problems, poor coordination, memory problems, hearing problems, and problems with internal organs. Foetal alcohol syndrome can, in severe cases, cause the death of the baby.
Drug taking during pregnancy can cause substantial risks to the baby including stunted growth, muscle spasms, tremors, low blood sugar, diarrhoea, vomiting, breathing difficulties, learning difficulties, and addiction.
Babies born with drug addictions can suffer short or long-term effects. Once the baby is born and no longer getting drugs through the mother, he or she will begin to suffer withdrawal symptoms; these can include irritability, problems with feeding, diarrhoea, and vomiting. Long-term effects can consist of behaviour problems, learning disabilities, hyperactivity, and organ damage.
Treatment is available for addicted mothers-to-be with methadone commonly used for pregnant women who are addicted to opioid drugs such as heroin and some prescription medications. Research has shown that babies born to mothers who have been treated for addiction while pregnant fare much better than babies born to mothers who have not had any treatment.
If you or a loved one needs help for addiction, contact Rehab Helper today. We are a free referral service working hard to put addicted clients in touch with suitable treatment providers. Our team of professional advisors and counsellors can provide you with information on all aspects of addiction and can offer advice and support to those who need it.
Call today for more information on how we can help.