High In takes of Painkiller in Pregnancy Contributes to the Rise of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

High Intakes of Painkiller in Pregnancy Contributes to the Rise of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

The present medical concerns over prescribed opioid (pain killer) use among pregnant women is generating global attention and experts kick against the long term use of opioids during pregnancy to reduce harms. Nora Volkow; director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health while speaking to BMJ press addressed the same issue.


‘The increase in use of prescribed opioids among women during pregnancy has probably contributed to the rise in neonatal abstinence syndrome, she argues “The steep increase in the number of opioid prescriptions dispensed in the United States has been associated with a parallel rise in their misuse, fatal overdoses, and heroin use,” she explains. “More recently, attention has been focused on the large increase in the number of infants born with neonatal abstinence syndrome. She stated that in US the numbers keep increasing “14-22% of pregnant women receive an opioid prescription during their pregnancy, and there has been an increase in the prevalence of opioid use disorders among pregnant women. This however leads to the increase in the incidence of neonatal abstinence syndrome which jumps from 1.20 to 3.39 per 1000 live births between 2000 and 2009.”




Neonatal abstinence syndrome is a serious medical condition which is caused by the exposure of fetus to addictive illegal or prescription drugs while in the mother’s womb .’The potential effects of opioid exposure on the fetal brain are unknown, but studies in rodents have linked it to birth defects in the central nervous system. Furthermore, human epidemiological studies have found an association between opioid use during pregnancy and neural tube defects and other birth defects. Studies have also indicated that opioid exposure could disrupt attachment between mother and baby, and cognitive impairments have been reported in children and young people born to women who misused opioids during pregnancy.





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Opioids should only be prescribed to pregnant women with severe pain that cannot be controlled with less harmful treatments.



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