What You Must Know When Adopting or Fostering an Opiate-Exposed Baby

Dawn Davenport

0

Adoptive parents may be matched with an expectant mother that used opiates, including methadone and suboxone, during her pregnancy. Foster homes are also sorely needed for opiate-exposed babies. Adopting or fostering an opiate-exposed baby is scary for most parents to consider.

adopting or fostering an opiate exposed baby

Opiate exposure during pregnancy, including when a pregnant woman uses hydrocodone (Vicodin®), oxycodone (OxyContin®), codeine, morphine, heroin, fentanyl, methadone, and suboxone, can cause the baby to become dependent on the drug. A baby born dependent that experiences withdrawal is usually diagnosed with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) at birth.

What You Must Know Before Adopting or Fostering an Opiate Exposed Baby

Not all opiate-exposed babies will experience symptoms of withdrawal. The timing and dosage of the expectant mother’s drug use will influence whether the baby experiences Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, and the degree of long-term effects from prenatal opiate exposure is not related to whether the baby was born dependent.

Withdrawal begins shortly after birth and symptoms usually last from 3 days to 2 weeks. Morphine is usually the medication of choice to treat newborns with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) with the dosage set to relieve symptoms and then slowly tapered off.

Symptoms of NAS can range from mild (colic-like symptoms) to severe (seizures and pauses in breathing). Typical symptoms of an opiate-exposed baby include tremors, tight muscle tone, excessive sucking, poor feeding, and difficulty in self-calming and self-regulation.

There are things you can do to help an opiate-exposed baby.

8 Tips For Coping with Withdrawal in an Opiate Exposed Baby

Humans, including baby humans, differ significantly in what soothes and nurtures us, so it is important to read the baby’s cues for what works but try the following:

  1. Decreasing external stimulation (a quiet environment with dark or dimmed lights)
  2. Cuddling and rocking
  3. Swaddling
  4. Skin-to-skin contact (kangaroo care)
  5. Nonnutritive sucking (pacifier)
  6. Warmth
  7. Massage
  8. Waterbed

Withdrawal and Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome are temporary and your comfort will make a difference.

Will My Care Make a Difference?

Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, a pediatrician and professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, says that while there’s no evidence of “huge, obvious differences” in opiate-exposed children, “there is a lot of research showing that the social environment plays a critical role in determining a child’s future.”

As a parent adopting or fostering an opiate-exposed baby you need to know that the worst usually lasts only a short period of time and your presence and comfort makes a difference

 
Sources:
Creating a Family Radio show/Podcast 2016-11-22 with Dr. Julia Bledsoe
Maquire, D., Care of the infant with neonatal abstinence syndrome: strength of the evidence. J Perinat Neonatal Nurs. 2014 Jul-Sep;28(3):204-11. Downloaded 2018-05-21.
Image credit: Dan Zink (swaddled baby);
Kim (newborn)

21/05/2018 | by Dawn Davenport | Categories: Adoption, Adoption Blog, Blog, Fostering, Fostering Blog | 0 Comments



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to Top ↑

Content created by Creating a Family. And remember, there are no guarantees in adoption or infertility treatment. The information provided or referenced on this website should be used only as part of an overall plan to help educate you about the joys and challenges of adopting a child or dealing with infertility. Although the following seems obvious, our attorney insists that we tell you specifically that the information provided on this site may not be appropriate or applicable to you, and despite our best efforts, it may contain errors or important omissions. You should rely only upon the professionals you employ to assist you directly with your individual circumstances. CREATING A FAMILY DOES NOT WARRANT THE INFORMATION OR MATERIALS contained or referenced on this website. CREATING A FAMILY EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS LIABILITY FOR ERRORS or omissions in this information and materials and PROVIDES NO WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, implied, express or statutory. IN NO EVENT WILL CREATING A FAMILY BE LIABLE FOR ANY DAMAGES, including without limitation direct or indirect, special, incidental, or consequential damages, losses or expenses arising out of or in connection with the use of the information or materials, EVEN IF CREATING A FAMILY OR ITS AGENTS ARE NEGLIGENT AND/OR ARE ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES.