Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome: How Does It Affect You?

When babies are exposed to drugs in the womb before birth, they develop neonatal abstinence syndrome.

12/26/20223 min read

When babies are exposed to drugs in the womb before birth, they develop neonatal abstinence syndrome. After delivery, babies may experience medication withdrawal. Opioid medications are the most common cause of this condition.

What are the symptoms of newborn abstinence syndrome?

Almost all drugs and medicines transfer from the mother's bloodstream to her unborn child via the placenta. Substances that impact the mother's nervous system will likewise affect the baby's nervous system. The baby has been exposed to the medicine since birth. However, because the medicine is no longer available, the newborn may experience withdrawal symptoms

Some drugs and medicines are more prone than others to trigger the condition. Almost all, however, have an influence on the baby. Symptoms are frequently worsened when more than one medicine has been used. These are some of them:

  • Opioids such as heroin and prescription pain relievers such as codeine and oxycodone are among the most often used opioids.

  • Amphetamines and cocaine are stimulants. The effects of these medicines on a baby are more likely to be caused by the substance itself rather than withdrawal.

  • Selected serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are antidepressants (SSRIs)

  • Barbiturates, alcohol, and marijuana are all depressants.

  • Nicotine is a substance found in cigarettes.

  • Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders are a range of problems that can be caused by drinking alcohol.

When it comes to newborn abstinence syndrome, who is at risk?

Pregnant women who take drugs, smoke, or drink alcohol during pregnancy put their unborn children at risk for neonatal abstinence syndrome and other complications. Drug users are also less likely to receive prenatal care. This can put both the mother and the baby at risk.

What do the signs and symptoms of newborn abstinence syndrome look like?

The syndrome's symptoms might vary depending on:

  • The medication that was utilized

  • When was the last time you used it?

  • It doesn't matter if the baby is full-term or premature.

  • Withdrawal symptoms might appear as soon as 24 to 48 hours after birth. They could begin as soon as 5 to 10 days after delivery.

  • The most prevalent symptoms of the condition are listed below. Each baby's symptoms may be slightly different. Withdrawal symptoms in full-term newborns can include:

  • Trembling

  • Too much crying or crying that is too high-pitched

  • Problems with sleep

  • Muscle tenseness

  • Reflexes that are overactive

  • Seizures

  • Sneezing, yawning, and a stuffy nose

  • Sucking and poor feeding

  • Diarrhea or vomiting

  • Sweating

  • Fever or a fluctuating temperature

Premature babies may be less likely to experience withdrawal symptoms or have milder symptoms. They may also recover faster than full-term newborns since they were exposed to less of the drug.

The symptoms of this disease may resemble those of other illnesses. Make an appointment for your child to see his or her doctor for a diagnosis.

What are the signs and symptoms of newborn abstinence syndrome?

The diagnosis is based on the mother's medical or substance addiction history. It's critical to provide an accurate account of the mother's drug use. This includes the last time you took a drug. A score system may be used by the healthcare professional to assess and pinpoint the severity of the baby's withdrawal. Certain signs and symptoms, as well as the severity of each, are given points. This grading system may also aid in treatment planning.

If the healthcare provider suspects the mother was taking drugs, he or she may check meconium, urine, or umbilical cord blood, or all three. If the newborn exhibits symptoms of the syndrome, it can also be done. All babies are screened at some birth facilities on a regular basis.

What is the treatment for neonatal abstinence syndrome?

Your child's treatment will be determined by his or her symptoms, age, and overall health. It will also be determined by the severity of the ailment.

Babies that are experiencing withdrawal symptoms are cranky. They have a hard time being consoled on a regular basis. Wrapping the baby with a blanket may provide some relief. Because of their increased activity, babies may require additional calories in their feedings. If they are dehydrated or have severe vomiting or diarrhea, they may require IV fluids.

Severe withdrawal symptoms, including as convulsions, may require medication for certain babies. Medicines can also aid with withdrawal discomfort and issues. If medicine is required, babies are frequently given a medication from the same drug family as the drug they were exposed to before to birth. Once the withdrawal symptoms are under control, the dosage of the drug is gradually reduced. This aids in the baby's withdrawal from the medicine. To find out which treatments might work for your baby, speak with his or her healthcare professional.