Impact of Prenatal Exposure to Opiates, Opioids, Methadone, Suboxone, and Other Common Drugs

What do adoptive and foster parents need to know about the impacts of prenatal exposure to opioids, Suboxone, and Methadone? What are the risks to a baby born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome or Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome (NOWS)? We talk with Dr. Julian Davies, a pediatrician at the University of Washington’s Center for Adoption Medicine and their FASD and Prenatal Exposure Clinic.

In this episode, we cover:

  • What are opiates or opioids? 
  • What are the most common opiates that are being used during pregnancy? 
  • What are the most common non-opiate drugs that are being used by pregnant women? 
  • What are the common treatment medication/drugs given to those struggling with addiction who are trying to get off opioids? Methadone, Suboxone, and Subutex 
  • Are Methadone, Suboxone, and Subutex safe to use during pregnancy? 
  • What are the short- and long-term impacts on infants exposed to opiates
  • What are the short- and long-term impacts of infants exposed to Methadone in pregnancy? 
  • What are the short- and long-term impacts of infants exposed to Suboxone in pregnancy? 
  • Does the dosage of methadone or suboxone have an effect on the baby? 
  • What are the short- and long-term impacts of infants exposed to methamphetamines (meth) in pregnancy? 
  • What are the short- and long-term impacts of infants exposed to cocaine in pregnancy? 
  • What are the short- and long-term impacts of infants exposed to marijuana in pregnancy? Edible vs. smoking vs. vaping 
  • Does the timing of exposure in pregnancy affect the prognosis for the child? Is there a safer time for a fetus to be exposed to drugs in utero? 
  • Many parents believe that if the child is not born dependent or with drugs in their system that the prognosis is better. Or conversely, if the child is born dependent and has to go through withdrawals that they will suffer more impact from the in-utero drug exposure. Is this true? 
  • How serious is drug dependency and withdrawal for the infant? 
  • How is withdrawal treated in the infant? How is Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) and Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome (NOWS) treated in babies born dependent? 
  • Families that adopt out of state are often concerned about how soon they can travel home with their baby if she has been born dependent and is going through withdrawal. 
  • How long does withdrawal in an infant born dependent last? 
  • If a baby tests positive for opiates is it possible to determine what drug the baby has been exposed to? Does the long-term prognosis matter depending on which drug? 
  • How do you foster attachment while baby is suffering through withdrawal? 
  • How common is it for women who use drugs during their pregnancy to also drink excessively during their pregnancy? 
  • One thing you hear a lot is that “early intervention is key” and that a baby’s brain can be rewired during the first couple of years with the right therapy. What exactly does that therapy entail? Where can you find it? What strategies should you be using at home with your child with a diagnosis of prenatal drug exposure? 
  • There are many similarities between drug exposure and trauma in how it affects children’s learning, behavior, etc. When a child has both of those challenges, is it possible to tell the difference on what is causing specific problems, and is the treatment different depending on the cause? 
  • Are children who are exposed prenatally at a greater risk for drug abuse as teens and adults if they were adopted and not raised in an environment that exposed them to drug use? 
  • What are the most common blood born

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Music Credit: Michael Ashworth

Image Credit: Kat Jayne