How Does Substance Abuse in Utero Affect a Child

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 “You know that we are lost when babies are addicted to drugs when they are born”- Louis Eric Barrier. Every 25 minutes, in the United States, a baby is born experiencing  a dependence on some type of drug. Drinking, smoking, and recreational drug use during pregnancy has become a worldwide epidemic, harming or killing untold numbers of developing babies.

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Those that survive birth will continue to suffer a list of negative effects . This is a serious problem in our country as rates of addiction are increasing, drugs are on the rise, and tax payers are spending billions of dollars a year just for the addicted  newborns’ extended hospital stays.  Of all  these unpleasant facts, worse is the price that these infants  must pay throughout their lives, facing behavioral, social, or academic problems in childhood and mental health issues as adults. Women in their child bearing years need to be informed and make careful choices for their unborn children.

According to Lauren Villa, writer at American Addiction Centers, Anywhere from 48-94% of babies exposed in utero to heroin will experience withdrawal at birth. Heroin is an extremely addictive recreational drug made from a seed pod of an opium poppy plant. Children born to heroin-dependent parents also had a high incidence of hyperactivity, inattention, and behavioral problems, determined by National Center for Biotechnology Information. Children in America born exposed to drugs in the womb has increased dramatically in the past 15 years. Reported by Mother to Baby, Studies have reported a risk for Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) with heroin use during the third trimester of pregnancy. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimated that about 6 of 1,000 babies born in the U.S. are diagnosed with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. Hospitals may use an assessment tool developed in the 1970’s during the peak of the heroin outbreak. The assessment tool is used to help rate the infant’s symptoms which helps determine what medication to put a baby on. In accordance with Mother to Baby, March of Dimes states, If you use heroin during pregnancy, it can cause serious problems for your baby, like premature birth, NAS, birth defects and still birth. Still birth is when a full term infant dies and is delivered. Drug use also causes many pregnant women to miscarry a fetus that is not yet full term. On average, the hospital stay for an infant diagnosed with NAS is $67,000. In 2012, 80 percent of the $1.5 billion charges for the treatment of NAS were covered by Medicaid programs, funded by taxpayers. “If you do not get medical care, it is four times more likely that your baby will die during your pregnancy or shortly after being born, believed by CRC Health.  

Mother to Baby states that,

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