Opioids Exposure and Infant Brain Development | WYPR

Opioids Exposure and Infant Brain Development

Apr 30, 2018

As awareness of the ongoing opioid crisis continues to grow, recent studies focus on the effects of opioid-exposure to infant brain development. The results – like the crisis itself – are not good.

Infants born with an addiction to opioids suffer from a condition called neonatal abstinence syndrome. According to the CDC, opioid-addicted babies may have difficulty feeding, are more likely to have tremors, and sneeze and yawn frequently, among other symptoms. Children born addicted to opioids – whether it be street drugs like heroin or prescription drugs like OxyContin– are more likely to suffer behavioral challenges and learning problems.

A recent study at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center examined 87 children who had been treated for opioid exposure. These children were found to be at higher risk than others for delayed language, cognitive, and motor skills. Using the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development assessment, the researchers found that these same children scored “significantly” lower than national averages.

For children who suffer from opioid-exposure, close ongoing monitoring is crucial and medical follow-ups and screenings are essential. The long-term effects are less known, making immediate and early care paramount.

More information is at Maryland Family Network's website