Growing numbers of newborns across the country are struggling with addiction as prescription drug abuse ravages communities.
This article highlights the dilemma for doctors who treat expectant mothers who are addicted to prescription painkillers. Quitting cold turkey can lead to miscarriage and seizures in utero for babies. On the other hand, babies born to mothers who are treated with methadone must be “painstakingly withdrawn” from the drug after birth, and little is known about the long-term impact of methadone on a child’s development. Uncertainties about how best to proceed in these cases is causing many doctors to refuse to treat women addicted to opiates.
The article explains that “a study published in…The New England Journal of Medicine showed that babies whose mothers had taken buprenorphine required significantly less medication after birth and less time in the hospital than did babies whose mothers were treated with methadone.” But it also notes that exposure to buprenorphine in utero can still cause withdrawal symptoms and that this drug does not seem to work for all addicts.
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