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Pregnancy Complications from Heroin Abuse

Pregnancy Complications from Heroin Abuse - pregnant womanWhen a woman is pregnant, she shares everything with her baby, from what she ingests to her emotions.

Using heroin during pregnancy can cause serious problems, and even be fatal for your baby. Heroin is transferred into the placenta rapidly, and the fetus gets high with the mother. Blood tests at birth have shown the infant’s blood levels to be 50% to 100% of the mother’s drug level.

According to the American Pregnancy Association, using heroin during pregnancy can lead to the following problems in your unborn child:

  • Birth defects – These are conditions that are present at birth. They effect how the body and
    brain function and can have life-long consequences.
  • Bleeding in the brain
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Impaired function of the lungs
  • Low birth weight – This may not sound like a big deal, but babies that are born weighing less than 5 pounds 8 ounces are known to have problems such as: heart failure, blindness, and impaired intestinal functioning. Some may be too small to survive for long after birth. Low birth weight has also been associated with health problem later in life such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
  • Placental abruption – Placental abruption is the term for when the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus. The umbilical cord is the lifeline for the fetus. The umbilical cord is attached to the placenta. The function of the placenta is to supply the baby with nutrients and oxygen. If the placenta detaches from the uterus, the baby loses their supply and the mother can have heavy bleeding. This can be deadly for both the mother and the unborn child.
  • Premature birth – When birth happens too early, the baby can have many physical and mental problems.
  • Still birth – This is when the baby dies in the womb after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome – SIDS is the unexplained death of an infant under one year of age.

If you are addicted to heroin and are pregnant, it may be dangerous for you and your baby if you stop “cold turkey”. Keep in mind that your baby is addicted too, and may not live through withdrawal. Studies show that if a woman addicted to heroin stops abruptly during her pregnancy the baby will suffer through hyperactivity then oxygen deprivation, causing its death.

The best option for woman that is addicted to heroin while pregnant is to get into a drug treatment center. A drug treatment facility can help you with a medical detox, which means they will monitor you and your baby while you withdrawal from heroin safely using a prescribed medication. The drug buprenorphine has been shown to be safe for use in pregnant women. Buprenorphine can ease the symptoms of heroin withdrawal for you, and allow your baby to continue to grow and develop normally.

If you or a loved one need addiction help, contact our confidential helpline at (888) 989-9690.