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Attorneys General Advocate for Painkiller Warning Label for Pregnant Women

dreamstime_3840083Across the country, more and more babies are born addicted to opiate painkillers, and law makers are working hard to figure out how they can help to deter the problem. In an attempt to educate pregnant women before they take the drugs, 43 attorneys general pooled their efforts in a letter calling for the implementation of a black box warning label on prescription painkillers that indicate that use of the drug is harmful to unborn children.

Children Born Addicted

The problem of neonatal abstinence syndrome, or babies born going through the withdrawal symptoms of opiate detox, is a debilitating issue for newborns. They include:

  • Fever
  • Tremors
  • Low birth weight and low weight gain after birth
  • Seizures

Some don’t survive, especially if there are any other complications, and others struggle with physical, behavioral, emotional, and developmental disabilities as a result. The long-term consequences of being born addicted to opiates or fetal development that occurs under the influence of opiates is still being determined in studies.

The Letter Requesting Action

The letter penned and signed by the 43 attorneys general was directed to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg. In it, they wrote: “We believe that a ‘black box warning’ for these medications would help ensure that women of childbearing age – as well as their health care providers – are aware of the serious risks associated with narcotic use during pregnancy.”

The medications that they propose should have the black box warning on the label include:

  • OxyContin
  • Methadone
  • Codeine
  • Morphine
  • Vicodin

All of these medications are in the same opiate family as heroin, and a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that about one baby every hour – or 13,500 newborns – was born with withdrawal symptoms in 2009. In some regions, these numbers are even higher and have continued to climb in recent years.

Pregnancy and Drug Abuse

Some pregnant women simply don’t realize that a medication they are prescribed is dangerous for their unborn child. Still others fear dealing with chronic pain or going through withdrawal symptoms themselves while pregnant and continue to take the pills despite the risk to the baby.

Addicted women who are pregnant are urged to be open and honest about their drug use with their doctor. Physicians can often help to mitigate the damage done to the baby and provide the mother with an alternative pain management plan that can help both of them to thrive.

Contact us at Orchid Recovery Center today to speak with our staff about the programs we offer to women who are ready to walk away from addiction for good.

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