Horizon Blog

The dangers of abusing opiates during pregnancy

October 25th, 2016

id-10089061Did you know that the abuse of heroin or other opiates during pregnancy has shown to increase the likelihood of prenatal obstetric complications by 600%?

Opiates such as heroin, prescribed painkillers, and anti-withdrawal drugs such as methadone, can all have serious and detrimental effects on existing and future pregnancies.  If you are pregnant, or are planning to become pregnant, the sooner you seek help, the greater are your chances of giving birth to healthy baby.

The following is a list of several of the complications associated with opiate abuse during pregnancy.

  1. Insufficient prenatal care – Research has shown that 75 percent of all pregnant heroin addicts never seek prenatal care, leading to health complications for their baby.
  2. Low birth weight – In addition to the impact of opiates on the fetus, addicts are less likely to take proper care of their own bodies and are more likely to have poor nutrition habits which impacts the weight and overall development of their fetus.
  3. Stillbirth – When a fetus fails to sustain proper growth in-utero, it faces an increased risk of stillbirth.
  4. Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) – NAS represents the period of withdrawal experienced by newborn babies born to opiate-addicted women. Symptoms of NAS may include tremors, irritability and excessive crying, problems sleeping, hyperactive reflexes, and seizures.
  5. Inability to breastfeed – Infants who are experiencing opiate withdrawal may be unable to properly nurse at the breast.
  6. Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) – Babies born to women who use heroin while pregnant have a significantly higher risk of SIDS.
  7. Increased risk of disease – According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, women who use heroin are at high risk of contracting HIV, which causes AIDS, hepatitis C and hepatitis B, diseases that can be transmitted to an unborn baby.
  8. Developmental issues such as behavioral problems, mental or physical delays and learning disabilities.

Give your baby a healthy start in life.  Resources are available to help you recover from substance use disorder.  Please call us at (716) 831-1800.  We can help.

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