Treatment Not Punishment: AAP Releases A New Statement Regarding On Pregnant Women Under Opioid Influence

First Posted: Feb 22, 2017 04:20 AM EST

Pregnancy needs to be guided accordingly to ensure the health of both the mother and the unborn child. Thus, pregnant women who use opioids need treatment and prevention and not legal action, according to a group of leading pediatricians.

For some of the states, they prosecute and jail the pregnant women because of the substance abuse. However, a new statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) warns that disciplinary measures have zero health benefits for both the mother or child and may hinder the women from asking for help, according to UPI.

In an AAP news release, Dr. Stephen Patrick said that, "Over the last two decades, use of opioids surged throughout the U.S., and as they did, we have seen an increase in opioid-related complications in nearly every population, including pregnant women and their infants."

Dr. Patrick added that their response should be grounded in public health. They should be bolstering efforts that target at the primary prevention. These include prescribed drug-monitoring programs and treatments that expand to the exact needs of pregnant women and their families.

In a Consumer Health Day report, the AAP recommends that along with the improving access to birth control together with substance abuse treatment and parental care, the following is also needed:

  • Routine drug and alcohol screening for all the women of childbearing age.
  • Information to be provided and obtaining informed consents for drug reporting and testing.
  • Better access to the comprehensive obstetric care which includes the opioid-replacement therapy.
  • Treatment for drug and alcohol programs that is designed for pregnant women.
  • More budget for the social services and child welfare systems.

As follows, these statements were released online, Feb. 20 and in the March issue of the Journal of Pediatrics.

The co-author also mentioned in the news release that "Pregnant women must be able to discuss their substance use openly with their medical providers without fear of punishment. Punitive policies towards pregnant women with the substance use disorder are detrimental to the health of mother and baby."

Meanwhile, according to the academy, in the Unites States alone, the rate of newborns that has the symptoms of drug withdrawal increase for nearly fivefold over the last decade. The group also said that in the year 2012, an infant that has a withdrawal symptom was born every 25 minutes in the United States.

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