Dangerous Rise in Opiate Use by Expecting Mothers

In our current society, people may often hold the belief that substance abuse and addiction only effects the person who is using mind-altering substances. However, this is generally not the case. Addiction has a way of reducing the quality of life of anyone that is addicted, as well as those who are close to an addict. In some individuals, this harm takes on a more physical manifestation, particularly if that person is an unborn child with a mother taking opiates. As unfortunate as these occurrences are, they are steadily growing in frequency.

In 2018, West Virginia providers wrote 69.3 opioid prescriptions for every 100 persons, compared to the average U.S. rate of 51.4 prescriptions. This was among the top ten rates in the U.S. that year; however, it was also the lowest rate in the state since data became available in 2006.

Dangers and Birth Defects of Opiate Use

Prenatal use of opiates have shown to have severe consequences for unborn children. While taking an opiate just once may appear to be an isolated occurrence, but the consequences of using for the child may last for the rest of his/her life. The most common physical symptoms of birth defects due to opiate use include:

  • Spina befida (a neurological disorder in the child’s spine)
  • Hydrocephaly (a buildup of debilitating fluid in the child’s brain)
  • Glaucoma (a defect in the child’s eyes)
  • Gastroschisis (a defect in which the child’s intestines protrude outside the child’s abdomen)
  • Fatal Heart Defects (such as holes in the heart’s chambers, undeveloped heart, and/or compromised blood flow through the heart)

The Rise in Prenatal Opioid Use

These horrific side-effects are common occurrences in opiate usage for unborn children; but after looking at the growing statistics, these effects may soon be common occurrences in our general society. In contrast to only three years ago, opioid use has more quadrupled in frequency in pregnant female populations. Currently in 2015, it is already predicted that there will be even more occurrences of prenatal opiate use this year. This sharp increase of use under these circumstances should cause tremendous concern, as the ramifications of prenatal use would be disastrous to families across the nation.

What Should Be Done?

To assist in counteracting the prominence of this disastrous occurrence, people have been debating ways in which to spread education about these effects, as well as increasing access to treatment services to help expecting mothers and other individuals with opiate addiction and rehabilitation. Senator Edward Marky has proposed a bill that would assist in providing accessible care for these people.
“When effective medication-assisted treatment is made available, people’s lives can be saved,” Markey states, “Treatment for prescription drug and heroin addiction should not be harder to access than the actual drugs destroying lives and communities.”
With these treatment plans in its early stages, it may be encouraging to see these plans of assistance being able to help expecting mothers and other people in a time of great need. However, while treatment is a vital aspect, prevention is another element to look towards. Spreading the word about opiate use (whether the substance be heroin, or opiate-based pain killers) can possibly save families from a lifetime of medical problems, or even the lives of mother and child alike.

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17 comments
  1. Thanks for the enlightenment. Many that get engaged in the use of opiates don’t really know why it entails and it’s effects..
    Good to read more about this

  2. Opiate had been used in the middle east for many years. The rise of opiate abuse can cause a breakdown to our society. There had been so much illegal drugs in the market that even the streets are being flooded by drug addicts.

  3. In fact, the proposition of Senator Edward Marky is a welcome idea because some of these addicts can help themselves. Drug and alcohol during pregnancy is disastrous.

  4. Drugs to help addicts shouldn’t be hard to get, seriously a law should be passed to that effect. Also expecting mothers should be mindful of what they take in as the foetus also takes equal share

  5. Please, expecting mothers, be careful with your unborn child. Your personal problems would be felt with your baby. Your child may bear the negative effects of what you’re doing. If you are in trouble, please go and seek the advice of the professionals. They will be there to listen and help you out of the dark hole. Never ever indulge in drug addiction.

  6. This is very harmful to the unborn baby. Steps should be taken by the people at the helm of affairs to discourage the pregnant women from the consumption of this hard drug.

  7. Thank you Riesto for sharing such content about the opiate. And yes atleast at time of pregnancy they should avoid these things. and you showed the data is very large and hope it will help more people to aware about the things.

  8. Every pregnant woman taking this should desist, if not for there own sake kindly consider the unborn child. Looking at some of the consequences enlisted in the write up, I don’t think any reasonable person should take it again.

  9. This is serious. I never knew opiates intake can affect the unborn child in a negative way. I think pregnant women and the society at large should be educated on the effect of using this drugs. I never knew how serious it is until I read this article. thanks for sharing

  10. I always say this that not all prohibited drugs are harmful. Now I recognize its medical perks but it must be under the supervision of an authority otherwise it will be abusedSeveral drugs like MJ, heroine etc have this attribute as well. Under proper care these can save lives. In this case mothers and future kids.

  11. And why they rise opiates ,use by expecting mother ?if something that happened their families must care and support mom and always bring mom happy ,and forget that opiate,if do not families who Will care and support 100%

  12. This is not good at all. If alcohol can cause a lot of damage to am unborn child then just imagine opiates. I do hope expecting mother’s that are into opiates can be educated to understand the effect and the danger the opiate intake posses to the unborn child.

  13. For God’s sake. If you are pregnant, please, discipline yourself not to use addictive drugs. For it is not only you but the baby will suffer at the end.

  14. Taking drugs is dangerous enough to the person taking not to talk of its effect on the immediate family or pregnancy. Thank you for sharing this tips on the dangers of opiate use on an expectant mother, the dangers on the baby and what should be done. Very useful information

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