are a class of drugs used to reduce pain. Opioids are used as painkillers after
an injury or surgery. They’re sometimes used to treat a cough or diarrhea. Common
prescription opioids are codeine, oxycodone, hydrocodone and morphine. Fentanyl
is a prescription synthetic opioid pain reliever. If needed, a health care
provider can write a prescription to get these kinds of medicines.
can opioids affect your baby?
opioids during pregnancy can cause serious problems for your baby, including birth
defects. Birth defects are structural changes present at birth that can
affect almost any part of the body. They may affect how the body looks, works
or both, and can cause problems in overall health.
defects associated with opioid use during pregnancy include:
heart defects. These conditions can affect the shape of a baby’s heart, how it
works or both.
- Gastroschisis. This is a birth defect of a baby’s belly in which the intestines
stick outside the body through a hole beside the belly button.
- Glaucoma. This is a group of eye conditions that damage the optic
nerve. If untreated, glaucoma can cause blindness.
tube defects (also called NTDs). These are birth defects of the brain, spine
and spinal cord.
opioids while pregnant may also cause complications like:
- Miscarriage or stillbirth. Miscarriage is the death of a baby in the womb before 20 weeks
of pregnancy. Stillbirth is the death of a baby in the womb after 20 weeks of
abstinence syndrome (also called NAS). NAS is a group of conditions caused when a
baby withdraws from certain drugs he’s exposed to in the womb before birth.
abruption. This is a serious condition in which the placenta separates from
the wall of the uterus before birth.
- Preeclampsia. This is when a condition that can happen after the 20th week of
pregnancy or right after pregnancy. It’s when a pregnant woman has high blood
pressure and signs that some of her organs, like her kidneys and liver, may not
be working properly.
labor and premature birth. This is labor and birth that
happens before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Babies born this early may have more
health problems at birth and later in life than babies born full term. Opioids
also can cause premature rupture of membranes (also called PROM). This is when
the sac around a baby breaks before a woman goes into labor.
- Problems with your baby’s growth.
infant death syndrome (also called SIDS or crib death). This is the unexplained death
of a baby younger than 1 year old. SIDS usually happens when a baby is sleeping.
is opioid use disorder?
may be hard for some people to stop using opioids. Opioids release chemicals in
the brain that can make you feel calm and intensely happy (also called
euphoria). Drug addiction is a brain condition that makes you use drugs, even
if they’re harmful to you. Most people who take prescription opioids can stop
using them without getting addicted to them. But using them regularly can make
you dependent on them, even if you use them as directed by your provider.
to opioids is called an opioid use disorder. You may have an opioid use
- You take more opioids than your provider says you can take.
- You have cravings (a strong desire) for an opioid.
- You feel like you can’t stop taking opioids or reduce the amount
- You need more opioids to get the same effect.
- You have problems at home, work or school caused by taking
- You spend time getting and using opioids.
- You feel sick when you stop using opioids or reduce the amount you
you have opioid use disorder, you may have trouble taking care of yourself
during pregnancy. If you’re pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant and
taking an opioid, tell your health care provider. You may be able to change to
a medicine that’s safer for your baby. Don’t stop taking an opioid without
talking to your provider first. Quitting suddenly can cause severe problems for
your baby. For more information visit marchofdimes.org.