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Advances in health and medicine.
Marjorie Bekaert Thomas
Advances in health and medicine.
Fertility & Pregnancy Channel
Reported July 22, 2014

Crossing the Line: Pregnant and Addicted to Drugs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – The number of babies born addicted to drugs, including prescription medication has tripled in the last decade. That’s about 13,500 babies born each year fighting for their lives in NICU’s across the country.

Now a handful of niche clinics are opening up to help drug addicted moms get clean and deliver healthy babies.

New mother “Maria,” who asked us to conceal her identity, began shooting up the prescription pain reliever dilaudid with her boyfriend.

“I was lying, cheating, and stealing [to] get what I need,” she told Ivanhoe.

Paying for the drugs cost Maria her home. She tried rehab at a methadone clinic, but she became pregnant and lost the baby.

“I was just really depressed, really sad,” Maria said.

However, she was one of the lucky ones. Dr. Jessica Young, MD, Vanderbilt University, got her in Vanderbilt’s Drug Dependency Clinic for pregnant women and started her on a drug called buprenorphine two years ago. This year she had a healthy baby girl.

“It’s given me the opportunity to be a mom and do what I’m supposed to do,” Maria explained.

 “One of our big goals is to keep moms and babies together,” Dr. Young told Ivanhoe. 

However, that doesn’t always happen. One baby is born every hour in the U.S. addicted to opioids. Dr. Young said mothers run the risk of losing custody of their children when Child Services gets involved.

“In several states there are bills being considered that would mandate jail time for these women,” Dr. Young explained.

That’s why she said options like buprenorphine are critical. The drug blocks the brain’s craving for opioids, making it less addictive than methadone. Dr. Young said patients report feeling normal, not “high.”

“It’s pretty much changed and saved my life,” Maria said.

There are 38 states with fetal protection laws. This month, Tennessee is under the national spotlight as it becomes the first state to criminalize drug use during pregnancy if the baby is born addicted to drugs. The way the law is written, mothers being treated for their addictions with methadone, or called buprenorphine maintenance, could still be charged with a crime even though they are under a doctor’s care.  MORE.

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