Abuse of opioids during pregnancy can affect a baby’s development.

March 18 (UPI) – Treatment of opioid dependence in pregnant mothers can be as harmful to their unborn children as the drugs themselves, as a review of existing studies has shown, although higher quality studies are needed, the authors emphasize.

In an analysis published Wednesday JAMA Network OpenResearchers report that drug treatment for drug addiction – for example, with the drug buprenorphine, a widely used drug for the treatment of opioid disorders – has been associated with lower cognitive development rates in children born to pregnant mothers.

The authors of the JAMA article warn that the conclusions were based on the results of 27 studies in which more than 1000 children participated, but the included study had significant drawbacks.

“Our results show that a slight decrease in cognitive tests in young children, which were previously classified as opioid drugs during pregnancy, can in fact be associated only with problems in the design of the study, especially with the kit,” writes co-author p Leah Nelson. A medical officer at the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque, told UPI. “Most of the previous studies are based on observational cohorts, and unexposed children were recruited from families that did not really look like recruited children exposed to opioids.”

For example, according to Nelson, unexposed children in many studies “were more likely to be born to mothers who graduated from high school, had a higher socioeconomic status, and were much less likely to be exposed to tobacco during pregnancy,” meaning there were significant differences between opioid and unexposed families.

“With current data, the influence of opioids cannot be separated from the wider social and environmental picture,” she said. Research data shows that the number of pregnant women with opioid-related disorders in the United States has more than quadrupled in the past decade.

Currently, according to Nelson, guidelines from several national medical organizations suggest that drugs for an opioid-related disorder, including methadone and buprenorphine, are preferred over treatment, uncontrolled drug use, or drug abandonment. Each of the drugs "poses a risk to the fetus and also increases the risk of relapse and possible overdose in the mother," she said.

Nelson and her colleagues studied 27 studies involving a total of 1,086 children and found that 485, or about 45 percent, were treated with drug-based drug addiction. Although treatment for an opioid-related disorder has been associated with lower cognitive development rates in the children included in the studies, the researchers warn that there were other possible factors, including intrauterine exposure to tobacco.

“The vast majority of children with intrauterine exposure to drug addiction on the basis of drug treatment do not have poor results and usually develop,” Nelson said.

“The best thing you can do,” she said, “is to fund evidence-based prevention efforts, expand access to drug treatment with opioid disorder medications, improve educational and employment opportunities for addicted women, and provide antenatal care and social assistance. ” services, including parental skills and support, actively contribute to smoking cessation during pregnancy and provide universal access to comprehensive early intervention services for vulnerable children to help prepare for school. ”

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