Methadone for Pregnant Addicts – Is it Safe? Many women who are addicted to opiates and heroin ask only one question when pregnant – Is methadone a medication to help wean them safely off of narcotics – safe for my child? For more than 25 years pregnant women have been treated for their addictions by the medium of methadone. However, only if the health practitioner feels that the benefits of methadone will outweigh the risks associated with it, then only will he consider this option. Prior to discussing the benefits and risks of methadone, let’s discuss what it is all about.
What is Methadone?
Since the 1970s, medical professionals are considering to treat opiate addiction with methadone during pregnancy. In 1998, National Institutes of Health agreed to treat pregnant women on opiates with methadone as standard care. Methadone is a medication for opiate addicts. People who are addicted to heroin or any other opiate/narcotic drugs are often given methadone treatment without causing any high risks or addiction. It is also used as a pain reliever. Available in certain pharmacies, methadone helps in detoxifying and managing drug addiction.
Treating Pregnant Addicts with Methadone
As per National Institutes of Health, pregnant women consuming methadone will have comparatively less risks than those on heroin and other opiates. Use of heroin during pregnancy can cause the following effects:
- Preterm labor
- Babies born with low birth weight
- Babies who develop slower than normal ones
However, methadone maintenance helps in increasing the birth weight and gestational period of giving birth. It also helps in preventing the exposure of infectious diseases on the fetus.
Methadone Effects on Pregnant Women
Though medical professionals consider treating pregnant addicts with methadone, in some cases women can experience certain risks. Methadone enters the placenta of the woman and can result into dependence on the fetus. Since during pregnancy, metabolism rate increases, women usually need a higher dose during the third trimester. Thus, it is essential to maintain the use of narcotics so that proper dose can be prescribed. Too much and too less use of methadone can cause risks to a pregnant woman as well as the baby.
- Babies can have a risk of being born blind. In a study of 20 subjects, 95 percent of the babies had vision problems because of the mother’s use of methadone.
- Babies can be born with heads smaller than the normal size.
- They can face issues related to low birth weight
- Some babies can also go through withdrawal symptoms.
However, it is not only methadone that can cause these symptoms. Also the use of cigarettes, drugs, nutrition, biological makeup and many other things can cause these symptoms. If you are on a stable dose of methadone, it won’t affect the development of your baby. According to research, it is shown that there are very minute chances of mother’s methadone dose and baby’s withdrawal symptoms. It is very important for pregnant women on opiates to find a methadone dose that can help them get rid of their narcotic habits, as well as give birth to a normal child.