EXCLUSIVE: NAS - neonatal abstinence syndrome - affects babies whose mothers have abused drugs during pregnancy, leaving their babies to go cold turkey after birth. 22:26, 28 JUL 2018
Three babies a day are having treatment for drug addiction after being born hooked on heroin or cocaine.
Shock figures from NHS Digital show hospitals dealt with 5,000 cases of addicted tots over the last four years.
NAS – neonatal abstinence syndrome – affects babies whose mums have abused drugs during pregnancy.
When the umbilical cord is cut, the supply of drugs suddenly stops, so the addicted infant goes cold turkey.
Typical symptoms include high-pitched or incessant crying, tremors, vomiting and sweating.
But babies can also suffer dehydration, diarrhoea, fevers and even seizures.
Some may need medication to treat severe withdrawal symptoms, usually from the same family of drugs as the substance that the baby is addicted to.
Once the signs of withdrawal are controlled, the dosage is gradually decreased to help wean the baby off the drug.
Figures from the NHS show the problem is countrywide.
“Yet none of the women we support wanted to end up in this position. Most are victims of childhood sexual trauma and domestic violence.
"The shame and guilt they feel is huge. But all they need is help and support to break the cycle.
“A mum might come to us on baby four or five. Her previous children have all been taken into care.
“By getting her through treatment, addressing her underlying issues and enabling her to keep her child, we break that cycle of repeat removal.”
JAMA. Published online July 16, 2018. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.8401
Increasing public attention has recently been paid to the opioid epidemic and attendant effects on prenatally exposed infants and children. 1Current literature has emerged proposing marijuana as a safe alternative to opioids in addressing pain 2 and cannabis legalization as a way to decrease opioid fatalities. 3 As a result, perceptions of cannabis safety have increased, and the prevalence of marijuana use among pregnant women has expanded; past-month cannabis use among pregnant US women increased from 2.4% to 3.9% between 2002 and 2014. 4 Further, cannabis potency has been substantially increasing over the past 4 decades in the United States, and will likely continue to do so as extraction procedures of active components improve.
Although cannabis does have known medical utility for some conditions, its associated acute and long-term psychoactive effects on brain function are also known. Expanding use of cannabis among pregnant and lactating women (as likely will occur with legalization) may lead to increased risk from fetal and child exposures if the teratogenic potential of cannabis remains underappreciated …The exogenous supply of cannabinoids resulting from THC exposure can adversely affect fetal growth as well as structural and functional neurodevelopment. 6
Prenatal THC exposure has been documented to adversely affect infant neurobehavior and child development up through the teen years,5and postnatal exposures may compound prenatally acquired deficits. Neurobehavioral effects associated with prenatal THC exposure range from dysregulated arousal and motor difficulties at birth to disturbed sleep, memory impairment, aggression, and other developmental and behavioral concerns in childhood. 5
Despite these risks, it appears that clinicians are not addressing cannabis use during pregnancy or lactation; in one study of 74 lactation professionals, 85% encouraged breastfeeding among marijuana-using mothers. 7 Most national breastfeeding guidelines (eg, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) have remained steadfast in recommending against cannabis use during lactation….
The medical community should advise pregnant women to avoid perinatal THC exposure and intervene for women needing treatment, for children at risk for neurobiological and developmental problems, or for dyads at risk for negative outcomes associated with an untreated substance use disorder. Advice from medical professionals should be consistent: pregnant and lactating women should be advised to avoid cannabis use, and women (and men) caring for developing children also should be advised to maintain abstinence. Treatment programs for women with CUD should be available and accessible, and gender and culturally specific, particularly during pregnancy and postpartum periods. Converging, systematic research is necessary at both the preclinical and clinical levels to address insufficient evidence regarding maternal cannabis use 9 and to fully understand the short- and long-term effects of perinatal THC exposure, the effects of maternal cannabis use on fetal outcomes, and the consequences of polysubstance use in treatment and intervention efforts.
We wanted to make sure you had seen four key studies just into play
Additional Resources on Link Between Marijuana and Opioids
These articles follow other warnings from medical professionals: the recent editorial published in the Journal of the Society for the Study of Addiction, which cautions against drawing policy conclusions from population studies, and the editorial comment from the American Society of Addiction Medicine on February 20, 2018. And don't forget NIDA's rigorous study showing pot users are twice as likely to have abused opioids and have an opioid use disorder than non-marijuana users.
SAM has published a one-pager describing the overwhelming link between marijuana and opioid abuse. While not every marijuana user will go on to use heroin, nearly all heroin users previously abused marijuana. We need smart policies that discourage use, get people back on their feet, and restore people to participate in and contribute to society. States that have legalized marijuana, by contrast, see increased drugged driving, increased arrests of minority youth, and increased emergency room visits. Colorado is experiencing the highest number of drug overdoses in its history. Legalization is a failed experiment.
Sincerely, Dr. Kevin Sabet President, Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM)
Affiliated Fellow, Yale University
I heard the news that Canada became the second country in the world to legalise the recreational use of cannabis and, in all honesty, it shocked me. Mums are smoking weed while pregnant to get rid of morning sickness The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, believes that legalising the drug will help keep marijuana away from underage users and reduce related crime, but in our experience of treating some 140 patients per month for various addictions, addiction to ‘harder’ drugs in our patients stems from them trying cannabis at a young age. At our seven treatment centres, almost all of the patients that we treated for either heroin or cocaine addiction in 2017 started their experience of taking drugs in their childhood by using cannabis.
This is why I ultimately believe that Canada’s decision is ludicrous, dangerous and in all honesty a bit short-sighted. It worries me that they’re perhaps prioritising cutting down crime in the short term because taking away the illegal element to growing and selling the drug will put a stop to funding criminals preying on those most vulnerable. But this decision opens up the door to the current and future younger generations being more accepting of a drug that can be addictive. Cannabis use can cause dependency in the same way as other drugs do such as cocaine or alcohol, both on a chemical and behavioural level. When a person uses cannabis, the active ingredient of the drug – THC – travels through the bloodstream and heads straight for the brain. Once in the brain, it mimics the endogenous cannabinoids, disrupting brain function and the brain ultimately enjoys pleasure which will make the person believe it wants more.
The acute and long-term effects of THC on the brain and behavior are mediated via the vast endocannabinoid system (ECS), which was not discovered until the early 1990s and remains poorly understood. However, addiction is addiction and the psychopathology associated with marijuana, especially the high potency products, amid the drumbeat for full legalization in the absence of any serious scientific scrutiny is tantamount to political malpractice.
Use can be associated with psychosis, depression, suicidality and premature death…There is not a speck of scientific evidence to suggest that marijuana is a viable “Medically-Assisted Treatment” modality for opioid addiction…like all addictive substances, marijuana degrades neuronal signaling germane to reward incentive and processing, resulting in marked emotional dysregulation. Chronic use is associated with anhedonia, cognitive deficits and psychiatric disease. Marijuana Use Disorder comports with our known model of addiction at every level. The challenge is to educate a public that has been sold a bill of goods and manipulated by claims of efficacy, safety for everything from cancer to pain, without any FDA scrutiny for safety or efficacy
Taking Action - Stopping Ice
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Medicinal Cannabis –
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Presentations, Statements & Conference Resources from WFAD 2018 Forum