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Methadone and Pregnancy

Methadone and the Newborn

Methadone is a narcotic, and chronic use of the drug during the end of a pregnancy may cause narcotic withdrawal in the infant after delivery. Such symptoms may include:
  • Irritability
  • Excessive crying
  • Shakiness
  • Hyperactive reflexes
  • Rapid breathing
  • Increased stools
  • Sneezing
  • Yawning
  • Vomiting
  • Fever.
The withdrawal symptoms may last for days, weeks, or even months. It has been suggested that if the mother is continuing to take methadone, breastfeeding may help prevent signs of withdrawal in the newborn (see Methadone and Breastfeeding).
Other problems seen after methadone use during pregnancy in newborns or infants include:
  • Low birth weight
  • Jaundice
  • High platelets in the blood (thrombocytosis)
  • Increased risk of death
  • A possible increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
However, it is possible that such risks might be even greater when heroin or other illicit drugs are used during pregnancy instead of methadone.

Pregnancy and Methadone: Final Thoughts

In general, the benefits of methadone for drug treatment may outweigh the possible risks, although the same is not true if this medication is used for pain control. If you are pregnant or are thinking about becoming pregnant, let your healthcare provider know. He or she will consider the benefits and risks of taking methadone during pregnancy before making a recommendation in your particular situation.
It also should be noted that pregnancy changes the way your body handles medications. As your pregnancy progresses, your healthcare provider may need to increase your methadone dosage.
8 Frequent Pain Syndromes

Methadone Medication Information

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