Essay Sample on Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

Published: 2022-12-28
Essay Sample on Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Pregnancy Substance abuse Drug abuse Social issue
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1771 words
15 min read

Various research has documented that the rapidly increasing number of women who are at the age of childbearing are using licit and illicit substances. However much the statistical information may be insufficient, there are several indicators that almost one out of every ten infants may be exposed illicit drug in the utero. The Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) describes the situation in which the newborns experience drug withdrawal after birth as a result of drug exposure within the utero. Currently, the most common course of NAS is the abuse of opioids during pregnancy period (Frymoyer, 2015). Research has revealed that the use of drugs or the abuse of drugs is associated with a significant increase in the poor birth outcome or even low birthweight. Infants that are born to mother who abuses drugs are always tested positive for this kind of drugs at birth and this is shown by the traces of the drugs in the placenta, umbilical cords, and the stool. Recent research has also revealed that mother who takes drugs in less than two months to their pregnancy were twice more likely to be affected by the pregnancy as compared to those who did not use the drugs during the pregnancy period (Frymoyer, 2015). The World health organization has almost seven percent of women at childbearing age admits to having taken illicit drugs. Apart from the use of the known illegal drugs, alcohol consumption and consumption of non prescribed drugs shortly before delivery were at risk of affecting the infants too.

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This can also lead to hypersensitivity that can be caused by the somatic cells. A somatic cell is a cell that is contained in any living organism and is not a reproductive cell while a germ cell is a reproductive cell which contains chromosomes of somatic cells that when United will give rise to a new individual. The distinction between mutation of somatic cells and germ cells is as a result of alterations in the DNA; germ cell mutation is hereditary because they involve gametes for fertilization while somatic mutations are due to change of DNA somatic cells and are not hereditary this is the main difference between the two.

Developmental Consequences of Fetal Exposure To Drugs

It has been discovered that most of the drugs that are abused goes into the placenta and really affect fetal brain development. In the uterus, therefore, the exposure to drugs can have a long-lasting for the brain functioning and the structure. All these effects are experienced in the developing nervous system of the fetus. Drug and substance abuse among the pregnant women in this current generation has been a major public health concern as it exposes the infants to the risk of development and at the same time leads to the socioeconomic effect that is even increasing the expenses on medical and other social services (Frymoyer, 2015). Other legal drugs in several countries such as alcohol and nicotine tend to have quite significant effects to the infants, they affect the unborn and controlling the use of the same is difficult because they are legalized by the countries and therefore the expectant women have the right to consume this kind of drugs. The various measure should, therefore, be put in place by the world health organization to limit the use of this drugs by expectant or expecting mothers or they should put down a clear protocol and guidance to ensure that the consumption of this drugs does not have side effects on the infants.

The use of drugs can really alter the development of the fetal through a variety of mechanisms. For example, in a situation that the drug crosses into the placenta then it can work on its molecular target towards the placenta so that it affects the infant (Bowie, 2004). The abuse of these drugs can make them act on the acts on the placenta or the uterus that will lead to several effects in the developmental natures of the fetus. The effects that can result due to use or abuse of these drugs include, altering or malfunctioning of the uteroplacental blood flow or even alter the placenta secretion activities. The drugs can also cause an effect on the mother's physiology that can result in alteration in the development stages of the fetus. This secondary effect that might be transmitted to the infant as a result of physiological problems of the mother may include, the release of stress hormones together with maternal behavior that can really affect the health of the fetus.

Effects of the Use of Cocaine and Other Drugs to the Infant

The current research has shown that the number of pregnant or expecting women who are consuming cocaine is not well established; however several research has shown the effect that cocaine might have to the unborn child. It has been discovered that cocaine can easily cross both the placenta and the blood-brain barrier and thus have an overall effect on the developing fetus. The negative effects that might result of the use of cocaine can be traced in three different ways, first, the cocaine can really rebuild the uptake of multiple monoamines that leads to the increased concentration of the DA. The exposure to cocaine more so to the infant can lead to the increased nature of the biological activities and this can really affect the development of the fetus and cocaine at the same time can act as an altering agent in the functionality and the performance of the genetic program (Bowie, 2004). The clinical reports on the impacts of cocaine have been varying, others suggesting a severe physical malformation while other reports bring about the deficit in cognitive, physical and emotional development but still, other studies indicate that there is no effect.

The growth restriction has been said to continue well past the infancy stage and the general resulting effect on the use of cocaine on children up to the age of ten years. However much the exposure of the infants to cocaine does not show in any serious effect to lower the global intelligence, there is a piece of proper evidence in the performance of the behavior, language skills and the executive functioning of the body and the resulting behavior of the infant. Research has revealed that cocaine is related to the impaired development of language in children below the adolescent stage. The most valuable outcome on the effect of cocaine exposure to the children on their physical growth and development are traced all the way from their exposure during pregnancy (Bowie, 2004). Contain therefore has a various vital effect on the fetus development, memory upbuilt and the general physical and sociological effect and because of this it should be avoided at whatever cost. The long term effect has continued to hinder the general growth which has resulted in impaired growth and this has resulted in poor speech performance and general body functioning of the fetus as it grows.

The study has revealed that the use of drugs or the abuses of drugs is associated with a significant rise in the poor birth outcome or even low birth weight. Infants that are born to mother who abuses drugs are always tested positive for these kinds of drugs at birth and this is shown by the traces of the drugs in the placenta, umbilical cords, and the stool. Recent research has also revealed that mother who takes drugs in less than two months to their pregnancy were twice more likely to be affected by the pregnancy as compared to those who did not use the drugs during the pregnancy period. The World health organization has almost seven percent of women at childbearing age admits to having taken illicit drugs. Illicit opiate use has been increasing within the past decades and a proper increase of the same is seen to affect women who are in the production stages. The result of the abuse of this can result in the following effects, premature labor and rupture of the placental membrane, growth retardation and placental insufficiency. The perinatal heroin and exposure to morphine can also disrupt the maturation of the opiate receptor system and thus a lot of caution needs to be taken while handling or abusing such kinds of drugs more with the pregnant and expectant mother as this might have a severe effect on the growth and the development of the placenta.


Infants that are exposed to drugs have various developmental problems and as a result, the measure needs to be put in place to ensure that the infants are protected from these hazards. The drug-exposed infants tend to have such effect like, retarded growth, poor speech development and lack of sufficient programming of the memory which can really affect the performance of the infants in the future. The health practitioners, therefore, need to take a bold step to ensure that this kind of problems is rooted out within the society. This can be achieved, through education of the pregnant women and the women who are in the pregnancy period so that they get acquainted with the effect that might result from the use of these drugs. The victims need to understand the danger which their unborn babies are exposed to and the effect that the abuse of these drugs can have in their lives. This is the best solution to address the solution of this kind of problem as creating awareness can enable pregnant to reduce the use of these drugs and substance abuse.


Bowie, B. (2004). Interventions to Improve Interactions between Drug Abusing Mothers and Their Drug-Exposed Infants. Journal Of Addictions Nursing, 15(4), 153-161. doi: 10.1080/10884600490888349

Davis, R., Andrade, S., & Platt, R. (2008). Risk of congenital malformations among infants exposed to antidepressants during pregnancy. Pharmacoepidemiology And Drug Safety, 17(4), 423-423. doi: 10.1002/pds.1577

Frymoyer, A. (2015). Identifying Opioid-Exposed Infants: Universal Drug Testing in Moms. AAP Grand Rounds, 33(4), 38-38. doi: 10.1542/gr.33-4-38

Kathpalia, P., Kane, S., & Mahadevan, U. (2016). Detectable Drug Levels in Infants Exposed to Biologics: So What?. Gastroenterology, 151(1), 25-26. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2016.05.017

Preece, P. (2007). Infants Exposed to Fetal Teratogens: Long-Term Outcome of Infants Exposed to Neuroactive Compounds in Utero. Adoption & Fostering, 31(1), 130-132. doi: 10.1177/030857590703100120

Schuler, M., Nair, P., & Kettinger, L. (2003). Drug-Exposed Infants and Developmental Outcome. Archives Of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 157(2), 133. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.157.2.133

Thomas, S., Ajaykumar, B., Sindhu, K., Nair, M., George, B., & Sarma, P. (2008). Motor and mental development of infants exposed to antiepileptic drugs in utero. Epilepsy & Behavior, 13(1), 229-236. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2008.01.010

Wide, K., Winbladh, B., & Kallen, B. (2007). Major malformations in infants exposed to antiepileptic drugs in utero, with emphasis on carbamazepine and valproic acid: a nation-wide, population-based register study. Acta Paediatrica, 93(2), 174-176. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.2004.tb00701.x

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