Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) Lawyers
The opioid epidemic has ravaged America, but its youngest victims are just beginning to have their unique plight heard. Babies born from mothers who used opioids during pregnancy can be born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), a drug withdrawal effect that can put a newborn in the intensive care unit after birth and at a disadvantage throughout life. Frighteningly, and due to negligence on the part of drug makers and health professionals, the number of children born with NAS increased five-fold from 2004 to 2014, to the point that a baby is born with this life-altering condition every 15 minutes — nearly 32,000 per year.
Babies born with this condition can suffer from sleep problems, seizures, fever and a host of other damaging symptoms. But the worst may still be to come, with long-term consequences measured in developmental delays and a higher propensity towards drug addiction when they grow.
If your baby has suffered the effects of NAS, it’s up to you to contact an experienced law firm like McEldrew Young Purtell to get the justice you deserve.
This National Institute of Drug Abuse infographic shows the dramatic uptick in NAS. Source: Flickr
How Does a Baby Get NAS?
Unborn babies are sponges for their mothers’ nutritional and medicinal intake, regardless of safety. When a mother is using the most powerful prescription painkillers available, her baby will be affected. And when a baby is born and its supply of opioids is cut off, it will experience drug withdrawal just like an adult — except to far worse effect. Drugs that a mother has taken during pregnancy can take months to leave her newborn’s body.
While opioids are the most difficult drugs for a newborn to withdraw from, all drug use during pregnancy can lead to NAS. When more than one drug has been used, the symptoms are often worse.
The following drugs used during pregnancy have been correlated to damaging effects in children:
- Opioids: NAS resulting from opioid use can produce symptoms that last as long as 4 to 6 months.
- Amphetamines: Can lead to low birth weight and premature birth.
- Cocaine: Can cause poor growth in a fetus, and birth injuries such as placental abruption.
- Marijuana: Is correlated with lower birth weight, as well as learning and behavioral problems later in life.
- Alcohol: Alcohol abuse during pregnancy can slow growth and lead to heart defects, learning problems and mental disorders.
- Tobacco: Is correlated with low birth weight, and may put babies at higher risk for premature birth and stillbirth.
What Are the Symptoms of NAS?
According to Stanford Children’s Health, NAS usually manifests between 24 hours and 10 days after birth. The symptoms will differ for each baby and are also affected by its mother’s drug usage. Pre-term births are also less likely to manifest the worst symptoms of NAS, due to their reduced exposure to their mothers’ drug intake.
Signs of NAS include:
- Too much crying or high-pitched crying
- Sleep problems
- Tight muscle tone
- Overactive reflexes
- Yawning, stuffy nose and sneezing
- Poor feeding and sucking
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Fever or unstable temperature
What Are the Long-Term Effects of NAS?
So much is unknown about the long-term ramifications of NAS, but the condition has been linked to the following complications:
- Low birth weight
- Poor feeding and slow weight gain
- Vision, hearing and speech problems
- Delayed motor skills
- Behavioral issues
- Heart problems
- Spina bifida (a spinal defect which often causes paralysis)
- Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
A baby in neonatal intensive care. Source: Wikipedia
When to Consult with an Experienced Attorney
There are real costs associated with NAS — both the $60,000 on average it takes to treat a baby born with the condition and the unknown long-term effects.
With complex conditions like NAS, the best course of action is to consult with skilled attorneys like those at McEldrew Young Purtell as soon as possible — especially with the makers of Oxycontin, Purdue Pharma, currently undergoing a restructuring that may leave their victims out in the cold.
With 30 years of experience in personal injury and medical negligence and malpractice, McEldrew Young Purtell is well suited to evaluate your situation and help determine who can be held accountable. All personal injury claims are handled on a contingency basis.