In 2012-2013, according to NSDUH, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, did research on drugs and pregnancy. They stated, “Around 5.5% of the pregnant women who are aging between 15 years and 44 years have used drugs in some or the other form.”
The concern stated since then, as the newborns were showing signs of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome or NAS. This signifies that they have signs of opioids. The count of newborns with NAS in 2012 was around 21,732.
National Institute on Drug Abuse threw light on the matter. According to their statement, “As soon as these babies are born from their mother’s womb, they start detoxifying themselves.”
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists commented on the same. They said that, once detoxification during pregnancy was thought to be harmful, but now, this needs to be concerned about.
Dr. Nadine Trainer, pediatrician and physiatrist at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital once mentioned, “Children who are born under the influence of drugs, show certain signs of dependency on drugs. As they grow up, it is more prominent in their behavior. There are times that children will skip napping properly for days or do something not very likely. This can be quite harmful to them.”
Dr. Maria Mascola, the head of ACOG’s committee on obstetric practice researched on this. She said that Medically Assisted Treatment or MAT is the only procedure to help mothers withdraw from their drug habits. This process involves methadone or buprenorphine, medical supervision, and behavioral therapy to treat drug habits.
“Many research works are going on which is claiming that all these MAT techniques can be safe, but the complete data is not yet available.”
The president of Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine, Dr. Alfred Abuhamad stated, “If there are enough resources, psychological supports and medical experts in the team, this option of MAT doesn’t seem to be that impossible.”
Though Dr. Alfred Abuhamad has a very strong point, still there are chances of relapse. Dr. Mascola provides her analysis where almost 59% to 90% of to-be-mothers during treatment have shown signs of relapse. She also raised a valid question which concerns the mothers to whom MAT is not available.
Following up with the same question, Dr. Andrew Kolodny commented on the alternative treatment for MAT, “Self-restraint treatment will never be much successful as it doesn’t work that well on other patients. Similarly, the chances that it will work on pregnant women are also less. Though this can be beneficial for those who take a low level of opioids, it will not make any difference for pregnant women who are on high dose painkillers or heroin.”
Dr. Mascola claims, places where methadone or buprenorphine is not available, withdrawal under medical supervision can be an option. But according to Dr. Alfred Abuhamad, where these medicines are not available, how can there be medically supervised withdrawal therapy?
The only thing that is clear from these expert research works is that detoxification in drug abusive mothers during pregnancy is a must.