Babies Born Addicted To Opioids May React To Pain Differently And Need Special Care

A study has been released by the Penn State College of Medicine that found babies who were exposed to opioids in the womb have lower pain tolerances than normal. This means that babies who were prenatally exposed to opioids could need more special care than previously thought. While the research presented found something sad and unfortunate, it’s good that doctors now know more about taking care of these babies in need.

In 2017, more than 72,000 people died of opioid overdose in the US. More than 2 million Americans are dependent on opioids or have abused their prescription pain killers. When used during pregnancy, this dependency can be passed on to the baby, also known as “neonatal abstinence syndrome” or “neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome.” This condition puts the baby at higher risks of getting seizures and having birth defects, just to name a couple of issues.

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Researchers found that 24 to 48 hours after birth, babies prenatally exposed to opioids reacted more strongly to pain. When a skin conductance test was done on the babies (a test measuring the electrical differences in skin in response to pain or stress), they scored higher than normal. This means that these babies would feel more pain during certain necessary procedures, so doctors will have to provide extra comforting measures. Without more attention, these babies could suffer greatly.

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Opioids block the release of norepinephrine: the chemical released when one is stressed. In the womb, the babies are exposed to opioids that inhibit this chemical. Once born, they experience a spike in norepinephrine and other chemicals, and this leads to many symptoms such as poor eating, sweating, and seizures. Without immediate care, these babies could suffer serious consequences from the initial chemical spike.

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Want to post about my journey with addiction to opiates. When the doctors stopped prescribing me the shit ton of oxycodone I was getting, In order to “stay well” I had to switch to heroin. Obtaining heroin is not always an easy feat. It took more than a couple of attempts but I finally was able to score some. The first few times I was scared and determined not to use a needle. However, the first time someone shot me up, I was done for. It was extremely powerful and took to a place of pure bliss and ecstasy. I was numb from the world. A piece of me died that day. I had lost the small part of innocence I still had. I yearn for it still, knowing that it destroyed me. I became a very heavy user, and near the end developed an infection in my hand. It was excruciatingly painful as I stuck the needle straight into the wound, finding no other veins. I overdosed one other time but was fortunate enough to come to before the paramedics arrived. Today, I thank God for what happened to me because I know for a fact that I would end up dead or worse at the rate I was going. He saved me. And for that I am eternally grateful and blessed. I could choose to wallow in my sorrows but, at the end of the day, that’s not going to get me better. What I want people to know is that what happened to me can and WILL happen to you. NarCan does not always work!! I feel it’s my duty to raise awareness and warn others out there that they could wake up with a TBI (traumatic brain injury.) please learn from my experience and GET HELP today. #traumaticbraininjury #twenties #tbi #endopiateaddiction #fuckheroin #addiction #addictionrecovery #addictionawareness

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Thankfully, researchers were able to find this heightened reaction to pain in newborns who were once exposed to opioids. Now, medical professionals can watch out for certain symptoms that these babies are more sensitive to or more likely to develop. While the discovery is sad, it’s an important step towards better care of these babies who need special attention.

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