Drug Addicted Babies

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Keelana Char
English 155
Ms. Mendiola
19 September 2012

Drug Addicted Babies
The use of illicit drugs and abuse of alcohol exact a steep price from our society. Substance abuse is a factor in many serious ills such as crime. More upsetting, however, is the affects that it has on children born affected from their dependent mothers. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that 60 percent of women of childbearing age consume alcoholic beverages despite the fact that alcohol consumption during pregnancy is implicated in a wide range of birth defects and developmental disabilities, including mental retardation, physical abnormalities, and visual and auditory impairments. (Nevitt, 1996)

Since most drug users are in the child bearing years, the cycle continues and drug compromised adults face the crucial job of child-rearing, while at the same time dealing with the consequences and the side effects of hallucinations, anxiety, paranoia, physical aggression, impulsive behavior, memory loss and depression. Drug using parents are routinely diagnosed as having amphetamine or cocaine induced delusional disorders, as being gravely disabled, or unable to provide self and family with food and clothing. They are a danger to themselves and others, and they often have 4 to 6 children. (Behrman, 1991)

Drug addicted parents breed drug addicted babies who grow up severely handicapped, physically and emotionally. They later become drug addicted juveniles who commit serious violent crimes, and the influence of drugs reduces inhibitions, undermines judgment, clouds perceptions, and eliminates conscience. The drug epidemic that swept this country during the 1980’s has had a devastating effect on families, and particularly on the children who have been the silent victims of prenatal exposure to drugs. The number of children born each year exposed to drugs and/or alcohol is estimated to be between 550,000 and 750,000. In addition to the biological risk that prenatal alcohol or drug exposure poses to these children, they are at an increased risk of child abuse and neglect by parents whose need for drugs takes priority over the care of their infants and children. Because of these factors, there has been a sharp increase in the number of drug-exposed children in out of home placements, including respite and crisis care programs. (Behrman, 1991)

Birth weight is an important factor associated with children’s overall health and development. Children who weigh under five and a half pounds at birth are more likely to have serious medical problems and to exhibit developmental delays. Drug exposed infants often do not exhibit normal development. Frequently these babies are born prematurely and therefore have exceptionally low birth weights. (Chasnoff, 1988)

The risk of prematurity (birth at less than thirty-seven weeks) is higher in drug-exposed infants. Other complications can include an increase in acute medical problems following birth, and extended periods of hospitalization. Birth weight under three pounds has been associated with poor physical growth and poor general health status at school age. Low Birth weight infants also have an increased risk of neurosensory deficits, behavioral and attention deficits, psychiatric problems, and poor school performance. Premature infants may have experienced bleeding of the brain tissue, hydrocephalus, bronchial problems, eye disease, and interferences with the normal ability to feed. (Chasnoff, 1988)

The term Small for Gestational Age (SGA) is used to describe infants whose birth weight is below the third percentile for their gestational age (i.e., 97% of infants the same age are heavier than the SGA infant). It is common for women who abuse cocaine to experience decreased appetite and provide inadequate nutrition for themselves and their baby. (Kiess, 2009)

Failure to thrive is the general diagnosis applied when, for whatever reason, a young child does now grow as expected. The growth...
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