If you were to take drugs while you were pregnant, the substances could get into your baby’s bloodstream via the placenta. As a result, the baby could become dependent on the drug as well. Medline explains that if you were to continue to take drugs up until the end of your pregnancy, your baby would be dependent on the substance at birth.
Cutting the umbilical cord after birth also cuts off the baby’s supply of the substance. Therefore, a baby born dependent on a drug can experience neonatal abstinence syndrome during which he or she exhibits symptoms of withdrawal.
What substances can cause NAS?
Neonatal abstinence syndrome can occur if you take opioids such as oxycodone or heroin while pregnant. However, babies can also experience withdrawal symptoms due to maternal use of other drugs, such as alcohol or barbiturates.
What is the treatment for NAS?
If the withdrawal symptoms are severe, the baby may require methadone or a similar medication to ease them. Babies with NAS may vomit frequently. This can cause them to become dehydrated or slow their growth. Counteracting these effects may require intravenous fluid replacement and/or high-caloric feeding. The baby may need at least a week’s worth of observation by the health care team, during which time he or she may be unusually fussy or irritable. Babies with NAS may need extra attention such as swaddling or reduced lights and noise to calm them.
What are the diagnostics for NAS?
Your doctor may perform drug testing of the umbilical cord or screening of the baby’s urine or meconium (first bowel movement) to check for the presence of a substance that could cause NAS. The doctor can also assess the severity of the symptoms, and thereby determine proper treatment, by assigning points to each according to the NAS scoring system.