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The Opioid Epidemic among Expecting Mothers

Updated: Oct 5, 2022

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported in 2013 that approximately 5.4 percent of expecting mothers, ages 15-44, were actively using illicit drugs, such as opioid abuse, during their pregnancy. This startling statistics continues to climb. With highly publicized Opioid epidemic facing our country today, many do not realize the sever impact it has had on pregnant women. Opioids affect the central nervous system and can pose a serious risk of addiction and overdose to pregnant women.

Opioid pain relievers, sedatives, and sleep aids are sometimes prescribed to pregnant women to help them cope with the discomfort of pregnancy. However, the effects of these drugs on fetal development are not be fully known and the risk of addiction is very high. According to the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, infants born to opioid-addicted mothers have higher rates of neural tube defects, or defects of the brain and spinal cord. Mothers who abuse opioid pain medications, such as Vicodin, Percocet, or Norco, may give birth to opioid-dependent babies, who are at high risk of neonatal withdrawal syndrome.  Opioid abuse in a pregnant woman can lead to opioid dependency in her unborn baby, resulting in withdrawal syndrome after birth. The National Institute of Health (NIH) has expressed growing concern regarding Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) which occurs when an infant becomes dependent on opioids or other drugs used by the mother during pregnancy. The infant experiences withdrawal symptoms that can include (but are not limited to) tremors, diarrhea, fever, irritability, seizures, and difficulty feeding. They have conducted studies showing that buprenorphine and methadone have been shown to be safe and effective treatments for opioid use disorder during pregnancy. While NAS may still occur in babies whose mothers received these medications, it is less severe than in the absence of treatment.

While this is a very serious epidemic, many treatment facilities do not offer services to pregnant women due to risks such as NAS. BES Group believes these women are in great needs of treatment for their health and the health of their unborn child. BES now offers treatment services to pregnant women at out Northline Houston and Pasadena locations. It is our hope to not only assist these women during pregnancy but to provide recovery services after birth. If you know of someone suffering from opioid addictions, please send them to for help. We are standing by.

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