Navigation Link
Drug Addiction
Basic InformationLatest News
Immediate Access to Opioid Agonists Found Cost-EffectiveOpioid Crisis Hitting Boomers, Millennials HardestTop Anti-Opioid Meds Are Equally Safe, EffectiveIs Meth Use Destroying Vets' Hearts?Health Tip: Spread Awareness of the Opioid EpidemicLethal Dangers Lurk Even After Opioid OD RescueUsing Cocaine? Fingerprints Might TellFentanyl Driving Surge in Fatal U.S. Opioid OverdosesTrump Declares Opioid Epidemic a Public Health EmergencyU.S. Opioid Painkiller Abuse May Be Leveling OffDrug OD Rate Now Higher in Rural U.S. Than Cities: CDCExtended-Release Naltrexone Promising for Opioid DependenceHealth Tip: Recovering From Substance AbuseMedicare Could Do More to Stem Opioid EpidemicOpioid Manufacturers to Provide Doctor TrainingHeroin Taking Bigger Share of U.S. Opioid ODsRapid Test for Meth Abuse May Be NearOpioid ODs Have Cut Into U.S. Life Expectancy: CDCFDA Permits Marketing of App to Help Treat Substance AbuseApp to Help Treat Substance Abuse ApprovedFentanyl Drives Rise in Opioid-Linked Deaths in U.S.Opioid Overdoses and Deaths Flooding U.S. HospitalsU.S. Opioid Crisis Continues to Worsen'12-Step' Strategy Boosts Success of Teen Drug Abuse ProgramAddiction Drug Underused by Primary Care Docs in U.S.Is Infant Drug Withdrawal Likelier When Opioids Used With Psychiatric Drugs?7-Fold Spike Seen in Opioid-Linked Fatal Car CrashesOpioid Abuse Down in Younger Americans, But Up Among Older AdultsHospitalists Have Role to Play in Mitigating Opioid Use DisorderOpioids Second Only to Marijuana in Illicit Drug Abuse RatesEnding U.S. Opioid Abuse Epidemic Will Take Years: ReportMore Research Shows Big Surge in U.S. Opioid Use, AddictionsOpioid Addicts Find It Hard to Avoid FentanylAddicts Try to Avoid Deadly Fentanyl, But Many Tragically FailMedical Costs Soar for U.S. Babies Born Addicted to OpioidsAs U.S. Heroin Use Reaches 20-Year High, Cost to Society SoarsHeroin Vaccine Blocks Drug High in Tests on MonkeysDid a 1980 Letter Help Spark the U.S. Opioid Crisis?New FDA Head Outlines 'Forceful Steps' Against Opioid CrisisChecking Patient's Drug History May Help Curb Opioid Abuse1 in 4 Americans Knows Someone Hooked on Opioids: PollIt's Often Family to the Rescue During Opioid ODsGuidelines Issued on Substance Use Disorder Treatment in NursesBabies Born Addicted to Opioids Often Struggle With LearningDrug-Impaired Driving Continuing to Rise in the United StatesAMA Urges Doctors to Talk About Safe Opioid Storage, DisposalDrugs Now Involved in More Fatal U.S. Crashes Than Alcohol AloneHigher Illicit Pot Use in States That OK Medical Marijuana: StudyTrump Administration Offers Grants to Fight Opioid CrisisOpioid Abusers at Higher Death Risk When Addiction Specialists Not Part of Care
Related Topics

Kids Born to Opioid-Addicted Moms Seem to Fare Poorly in School

HealthDay News
by By Karen Pallarito
HealthDay Reporter
Updated: Jan 16th 2017

new article illustration

MONDAY, Jan. 16, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Children exposed to addictive drugs in the womb may be more likely to perform poorly in school, Australian researchers report.

In the study, these exposed kids lagged behind their peers on grade-level tests of reading, writing, math, spelling and grammar. By seventh grade, about 38 percent failed to meet test standards in at least one of these areas.

The study authors said their paper is the first to examine academic results in children with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) -- when a fetus is exposed to drugs in the womb. It's a rapidly growing public health problem fueled by the global opioid epidemic.

In the United States, it's estimated that an NAS infant is born every 25 minutes, the study authors said.

Opioid painkillers such as morphine, Percocet (oxycodone/acetaminophen), OxyContin (oxycodone), Vicoprofen (hydrocodone/ibuprofen), and the illegal opioid heroin are responsible for many cases of neonatal abstinence syndrome.

After exposure to these substances during pregnancy, babies experience withdrawal symptoms such as excessive or high-pitched crying, tremors, seizures or twitching, diarrhea and sweating, according to the March of Dimes.

Yet little is known about these kids' long-term outcomes, the study authors said.

Dr. Stephen Patrick, urged caution in interpreting the study's results. Patrick, who wasn't involved in the study, is an assistant professor of pediatrics and health policy at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville.

A slew of factors, from children's home environment to the medications they receive to manage withdrawal symptoms, could account for poor long-term outcomes, he explained.

Still, Patrick added, "We should be worried that there may be some long-term educational issues for infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome. For me, what it really calls for are prospective studies for us to look at this in the United States."

The study included more than 2,200 children born with neonatal abstinence syndrome in New South Wales, Australia, between 2000 and 2006.

The researchers based their results on tests given in third, fifth and seventh grades. They compared the children with NAS with a control group of over 4,300 kids unaffected by the syndrome. Both groups were matched for socioeconomic status, gender and time spent in the womb.

The test results were also compared with those of 598,000 other New South Wales children.

NAS children's test scores, on average, were sharply lower than those of both groups of children. By seventh grade, their scores were lower than those of fifth-grade children.

The study only found an association between NAS status at birth and lower test scores later in school. The cause of these effects is uncertain, the study authors said.

Neonatal abstinence syndrome occurs when addictive drugs such as opioids or sedatives pass through the placenta during pregnancy.

"These drugs cause brain cells to die more quickly and impair their proper development," said study lead author Dr. Ju-Lee Oei. She's a senior neonatologist at Royal Hospital for Women in New South Wales.

Families affected by addiction also may be more "socially chaotic," the study authors said.

Oei conceded that it's impossible to tease out the effects of children's home environment in this study. Her next project will tie in that data.

Nevertheless, she said it points to the need for greater family outreach.

"Early intervention and support for both the mothers and their children have been shown to be extremely effective in high-risk populations, and the benefits can extend for decades and even into generations," Oei said.

Dr. Siobhan Dolan is an obstetrician/gynecologist at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, and a medical advisor to the March of Dimes. She said prevention is the key.

"Every piece of outcome data [on children with NAS] is telling us how concerning this is," Dolan said.

"Now we need to identify women [with opioid-use disorders] and get them into treatment and provide support," she said.

The findings were published online Jan. 16 in the journal Pediatrics.

The study was partially funded by the Cerebral Palsy Alliance in Australia.

More information

Visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine for more on neonatal abstinence syndrome.