Pregnant women who use Suboxone put their babies at risk of developing NAS, or neonatal abstinence syndrome. This condition has increased rapidly over the last few years. Research shows that this condition can be caused by any opioid which is used by women who are pregnant.
How NAS Manifests Itself
When the drug enters the body it will travel into the placenta and reach the unborn child. As a consequence when the baby is born they will have a dependency for it. NAS will start manifesting itself within days of the baby being born. They may have developed fever, respiratory problems, diarrhea, seizures and eating difficulties. Babies exposed to this drug while in the womb may also have low birth weights. On average, children who develop NAS must stay in the hospital for an additional 15 days.
What Is Suboxone?
This is a prescription drug which has received approval from the Food and Drug Administration. It is used primarily to treat those who have become addicted to opioids such as heroin. The ironic thing is that this drug itself is comprised of an opioid agonist called buprenorphine that is mixed with naloxone, an opioid antagonist. It works by gradually weaning drug addicts off opioids such as hydrocodone which are full agonist and which function rapidly.
Withdrawing from opioids is extremely dangerous to unborn children. It can cause distress with the fetus, miscarriage or preterm labor. This is why it is best for pregnant women who are addicted not to cease their opioid usage while pregnant. Rather, drugs such as buprenorphine can be used to reduce the chances of withdrawal and threat to the child. The problem with this however is that these drugs may cause NAS after the baby is born, though the symptoms will be less severe.
Another reason why Suboxone should be avoided in women who are pregnant is due to the hormone changes it can cause in them and their unborn children. Naloxone is one of the ingredients and can trigger a withdrawal whenever the drug is abused, endangering the mother and child.
Birth Defects Resulting From Usage Of This Drug
Even if a child makes it to term despite the mother taking this drug, they may be born with various birth defects. Some of these defects include glaucoma, a condition which afflicts the eye due to optical nerve damage and which can cause blindness. Another condition is Spina bifida, in which the child’s spinal cord does not grow correctly and which results in both physical and cognitive problems.
Hydrocephaly is an increase in spinal fluid buildup inside the brain that can cause a child to be born with more than one head and while creating excessive brain pressure. Then there are heart defects which result from abnormalities in the manner in the heart forms which can result in a variety of heart related problems. Gastroschisis is a hole in the wall of the abdomen that can cause the intestines of the baby to stick out, sometimes outside of the body through the belly button.