Methadose (methadone) is a first-line treatment for pregnant patients with opioid use disorder.
Taking this medication while pregnant, however, can lead to the development of withdrawal symptoms in newborns following birth—also known as neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS).
Neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome is an expected and treatable outcome of taking Methadose while pregnant.
Here, you’ll find information about what this is, how it’s treated, and how to find opioid addiction treatment for someone who is pregnant.
What Is Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome?
Neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome is a form of neonatal abstinence syndrome—a potentially life-threatening condition for newborns exposed to drugs in the womb.
Methadose, like many other illicit and prescription drugs, can cross the placenta and lead to withdrawal in newborns following birth.
When taken as part of a medication-assisted treatment program, however, symptoms of NOWS are generally milder and can be effectively treated once identified.
Symptoms Of Methadose Withdrawal In Newborns
Babies who are born to mothers receiving medication-assisted treatment may require observation following birth. This is to monitor for withdrawal symptoms.
Symptoms of Methadose withdrawal can develop in newborns within one to three days, or up to a week after birth.
Signs and symptoms of NOWS may include:
- high-pitched crying
- rapid breathing
- blotchy skin
- trembling (tremors)
- tight muscle tone
- poor sucking/feeding
- sleep problems
- overactive reflexes
- not gaining weight
- stuffy nose, sneezing, yawning
Severe symptoms, such as seizures and difficulty breathing, can occur in serious cases of opioid abuse or illicit drug use during pregnancy.
Factors That Can Affect Symptoms Of NOWS
Various factors can affect the types of NOWS symptoms experienced and their severity, according to the U.S National Library of Medicine.
These factors include:
- types of drugs used during pregnancy (including alcohol)
- amount of drugs taken during pregnancy
- how the body processes drugs taken while pregnant
- duration of drug use during pregnancy
- whether the baby was born premature
Will Taking Methadose During Pregnancy Hurt My Baby?
Medication-assisted therapy with methadone or buprenorphine is a safe treatment for opioid dependence in pregnant patients.
The use of other drugs during pregnancy, however—such as alcohol, illicit drugs, or opioids not prescribed by a doctor—may complicate fetal development and NOWS symptoms.
If you’re concerned about the risks of Methadose use during pregnancy, your prescribing doctor or treatment team can offer guidance based on infant and maternal health needs.
How Common Is Methadose Withdrawal In Newborns?
Data from the U.S. Pediatric Health Information System estimates a NOWS incidence rate of eight to 20 out of every 1,000 live births in the United States.
Research from the American Academy of Pediatrics shows that the incidence of NOWS in infants with Medicaid in the U.S. saw more than a fivefold increase from 2004 to 2014.
During this same time, reported opioid misuse among pregnant patients also increased with the U.S. opioid epidemic.
How Is Methadose Withdrawal In Newborns Treated?
Treatment for Methadose withdrawal will depend on personal factors related to overall maternal and infant health, as well as the mother’s history of substance use.
Treatment for NOWS may involve:
- nutritional support for newborns
- hydration support (IV fluids)
- calming techniques
- medicine (for severe withdrawal)
- skin ointment (for diaper rash)
Another treatment, commonly referred to as “tender loving care,” is also strongly encouraged for treating newborn withdrawal—and focuses largely on calming babies.
What this may involve:
- gently rocking the baby
- reducing light and noise
- skin-to-skin contact with mom
- gently swaddling the baby with a blanket
Call Today To Find Addiction Treatment During Pregnancy
Beginning a medication-assisted treatment program during pregnancy can reduce risks associated with opioid misuse in pregnant patients with OUD.
If you’re looking for opioid addiction treatment for yourself or a loved one who is pregnant, we may be able to help.
Call our helpline today to learn more about Methadose and to find a treatment program for opioid addiction that’s right for you.
Published on July 15, 2021
Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.
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- American Academy of Pediatrics — Incidence and Costs of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Among Infants With Medicaid: 2004—2014
- American Academy of Pediatrics — New clinical report updates issues around neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) — Methadone
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Neonatal abstinence syndrome