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Heroin Use In Pregnancy And The Effects

By Expert Author: Dr. Basim Elhabashy

Because of its high tolerance levels, the dose levels of this drug keeps on increasing causing adverse effects and sometimes even death. The risk of adverse events increases several-fold during pregnancy as two lives are involved. During pregnancy, placenta connects the mother with the baby. Heroin can cross the placental barrier and affect the child. The following article presents the effects heroin has on the baby and the pregnant woman.
1. Effects of heroin in unborn baby: Using heroin during pregnancy increases the chances of premature birth. Studies have revealed that this drug is so addictive that even the unborn child can become dependent to it and may suffer from withdrawal symptoms, which includes irritability, fever, sleep disorders and joint disorders. Since the mothers injects the heroin in the blood-stream, the chances of HIV also increases, which passes to the unborn child. Thus, mothers who are addicted to heroin expose their unborn child to intrauterine growth retardation and premature delivery.

2. Effects of Heroin in Children born to addicted mothers: The children born to mothers addicted to heroin manifest several behavioral and cognitive developmental deficiencies. Since the children born to such mothers have inherited the addiction, they go through withdrawal symptoms which are painful for the infant. They show low birth-weight with troubles in breathing, and infant death. There have been cases where the child presented with bleeding in the brain (intracranial bleeding) and low blood-glucose levels (hypoglycemia). Babies born with low birth-weight have difficulties in learning language and communication. These children also suffer with lower grades in school and rejection from peers. Such a situation can be countered by early diagnosis and management at an early stage of life.


3. Effects of Heroin in Pregnant woman: Following the initial feeling of euphoria is a wakeful and drowsy state. Dry mouth, heavy extremities, collapsed veins, liver diseases and infection is common among drug addicts.

4. What can a pregnant woman do if she is addicted?
Treating and rehabilitation of patients addicted to heroin is complicated. This process is further difficult if the woman is pregnant. Methadone is generally prescribed as a treatment option. Once it is communicated that the woman is pregnant, the health-care provider can make efforts to provide best treatment available.

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