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Addiction and Pregnancy

Substance abuse is always harmful, but women who use substances during pregnancy are placing two lives at risk. In the United States, the prevalence of drug use among pregnant women is on the rise. Although addiction is a serious and sometimes life-threatening disease, there is hope for pregnant women and their babies. The first step toward recovery is to learn about drug addiction and its potential complications and this comprehensive article will offer addicts or their loved ones a good place to start.

Opioid Use During Pregnancy

Just as the percentage of people in the general population who abuse opioids has risen in recent years, so has the percentage of expecting mothers who use these drugs. The class of opioids includes both legitimate prescription medications and illicit drugs like heroin, all of which can cause significant health risks for expecting mothers and their babies. Mothers addicted to opioids cannot quit cold-turkey, though, as this can cause severe withdrawal symptoms and premature labor, so it’s important to seek professional help.

Risks to the Mother

The risks of using heroin or abusing prescription opioid medications during pregnancy are similar to those that affect all opioid addicts. They include respiratory failure, liver and kidney disease, heart and lung infections, infections from using shared needles, coma, and death from an overdose.

Risks to the Baby

Almost all babies born to mothers with opioid addictions are born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). Many are born prematurely or with low birth weights. The chances of placental abruption and stillbirths are higher when expecting mothers use opioids, as are their infants’ chances of SIDS when the babies are carried successfully to term.

The Bottom Line

Addiction always causes suffering. When pregnant women abuse drugs, alcohol, or tobacco products, they’re not just harming themselves, though. They’re also harming their babies. Anyone who is struggling to quit using drugs or alcohol while pregnant should seek help immediately to avoid further complications.

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