Opioids Exact Another Toll on Newborns: Smaller Heads

MONDAY, Dec. 10, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Infants born addicted to opioids may be more likely to have smaller heads that might hinder their development, new research suggests.

“Babies chronically exposed to opiates [during pregnancy] had a head size about a centimeter smaller” than babies born to moms not using drugs, said lead researcher Dr. Craig Towers. He’s professor of obstetrics and gynecology with the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville.

These infants had three times higher odds of a head size that fell within the lowest 10 percent of all babies in the study, results showed.

Prior research has shown that infants born with smaller heads typically have a higher rate of mental health and developmental problems, Towers said.

The findings call into question treatment standards for pregnant women addicted to heroin or other opioids.

Addicted women are now placed onto drug maintenance therapy and given methadone or buprenorphine throughout their pregnancy to replace the street drugs they’ve been taking, Towers said………..

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