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10TV: What happens when drug-addicted mothers give birth?

Drug addiction isn’t necessarily something that stops when a woman gets pregnant. But women who choose to go into recovery during their pregnancy are able to benefit from drug-assisted therapies, such as methadone, when under the guidance of a physician.

Methadone is a drug that helps to reduce symptoms of withdrawal in people who are addicted to heroin or other narcotics. However, the use of methadone doesn’t cause the same high that people taking opiates or narcotics experience. Instead, it’s a way to help them go through a more comfortable recovery period.

If a mother is addicted while pregnant, the drugs she is taking, including methadone, can also pass into the babies in utero, Krisanna Deppen, MD, an addiction medicine trained physician at OhioHealth Grant Medical Center, recently told 10TV reporter Shelby Croft. This means that when born, their babies can also be drug addicted and will also need help to safely withdrawal.

“We have the best outcomes when women are on medication assisted therapy,” said Dr. Deppen. “We have to work to get those babies safely through that withdrawal.” Deppen told 10TV that when given under the guidance of a physician, the moms are still getting consistent prenatal care and they don’t see as many long term developmental problems in the children.

Babies born to drug addicted mothers are carefully monitored in the hospital as they withdrawal. But what about breastfeeding? Can moms on in-treatment and on methadone still breastfeed their babies? Dr. Deppen says yes, that breast milk is the best option for babies and that very little of drug is passed through breast milk.

“Getting a small amount through the breast milk, we assume is actually helpful to that baby,” said Dr. Deppen.

However, if the mother is using other drugs, such as cocaine or heroin, breast feeding is not advised.

Are you struggling with addiction while pregnant and looking for assistance? To find help, click here.