Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS)

The number of babies being born in the United States addicted to opioids has tripled in the last 15 years. This is because almost every drug passes from the mother’s bloodstream through the placenta to the fetus. Illicit substances that cause drug dependence and addiction in the mother also cause the fetus to become addicted. At birth, the baby’s dependence on the substance continues. However, since the drug is no longer available, the baby’s central nervous system becomes overstimulated causing the symptoms of withdrawal.

Some drugs are more likely to cause neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) than others, but nearly all have some effect on the baby. Opioids, such as heroin and methadone, cause withdrawal in over half of babies exposed prenatally.   Studies determined that there is a five-fold increase of babies born with NAS from 2000 to 2012. This equates to one baby suffering from opioid withdrawal born every 25 minutes. Newborns with NAS are more likely than other babies to also have low birth weight and respiratory complications.

Mothers that got hooked on opioids and either used them while they were pregnant, or transitioned to Methadone or  Suboxone (Buprenorphine) or Opioid-like drugs in an effort to come off their opioid addictions are more likely to have babies with NAS. Both Methadone and Suboxone cause NAS and neurodevelopmental issues in infants born to addicted mothers taking daily dosing; albeit a lesser degree of symptomology then regular opioids.

NAS Symptoms

  • Irritability
  • Crying more than usual
  • Diffculty eating
  • Shaking (tremors)
  • Jitteriness
  • Breathing faster than normal
  • Diarrhea or more stools than normal
  • Sneezing
  • Yawning
  • Vomiting
  • Fever

Long-term Effects

Researchers still do not know the long-term effects of NAS. However, many are linking neonatal abstinence syndrome to:

  • Behavior problems
  • ADD
  • Memory and perception issues
  • Unknown effects on IQ
  • Otitis media
  • Vision problems
  • Motor development problems
  • Behavioral and cognitive problems
  • Risk of future drug use
  • Risk of SIDS or SUID

Heninger Garrison Davis is currently looking for cases of infants with NAS involving a prolonged neonatal stay (more than a week)  and preferably three weeks or more with significant withdrawal issues and developmental delays.

In addition, there are certain birth defects of infants born to addicted mothers: hydrocephaly, glaucoma, certain congenital heart defects, spina bifida and gastroschisis.

If you or a loved one became addicted to an opioid, overdosed, hospitalized from an overdose, or used an opioid during pregnancy and the baby has a birth defect, contact us today. We have decades of experience going against pharmaceutical companies and drug manufacturers that produce unsafe products.

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