Rising Number of Addicted Babies Born
A study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) showed an increasing number of newborns already addicted to narcotics. The number of newborns in Ontario born addicted to drugs rose from 0.28 out of every 1,000 births to 4 in every 1,000 births from 1992 to 2011. This is a 15-fold increase.
A majority of the mothers were legally prescribed narcotics while pregnant for various reasons. After becoming addicted, some of them recognized their addiction and switched to taking methadone, a medication that reduces withdrawal symptoms, towards the end of their pregnancy. However, some addicted mothers chose not to do that and went on to use other types of drugs, like heroin. Babies born to mothers on methadone had a much higher average birth weight than those born to mothers still taking the other drugs.
Taking drugs during pregnancy is not only dangerous for the mother, but it is especially dangerous to the baby. Babies who are born to addicted mothers will not only be born addicted themselves, but are more likely to be premature, still born, or have birth defects. Although treating a baby in withdrawal is possible, it is very uncomfortable for them, is dangerous, and interferes with mother and baby bonding time.
Doctors should think twice before prescribing narcotics during pregnancy and addicted mothers should not be afraid to get the help they need for themselves and their baby.