A study by the Boston Medical Center shows that prenatal food insecurity is linked to the severity of the neonatal abstinence syndrome. The doctors analyzed the consequences of poor nutrition in future opioid-dependent mothers. Food deficiency increases the risk of newborns suffering from withdrawal symptoms. In addition, the young have more severe symptoms and are more prone to chronic diseases.
Neonatal abstinence syndrome is a syndrome caused by in utero exposure to opioids. It develops between 50% and 80% of newborns exposed in utero to methadone and buprenorphine. It must be treated with specific pharmacological therapy and in 23% of cases it also requires hospitalization.
It is already known that food insecurity in pregnancy is associated with gestational diabetes, problems for the mother and the child. The young are likely to develop a wide range of diseases, including obesity and diabetes. How does food insecurity connect to the neonatal abstinence syndrome, though?
The study included 75 pregnant and nursing women for opioid addiction. During the third trimester, women filled out questionnaires about their mental state and nutrition. After delivery, newborns were monitored for neonatal abstinence syndrome and underwent all treatment. Doctors have encouraged breastfeeding in women who were no longer using drugs.
More than 57% of women had food insecurity problems during pregnancy. In their children the need for drug treatment was 4 times higher than all the others. It is therefore probable that nutrition will affect the manifestation and severity of the syndrome. How it is not yet completely clear.