Expecting mothers get treatment for substance use

Updated: Apr. 26, 2021 at 2:28 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - Substance use while pregnant is a problem in the Heartland.

It can cause long-lasting health issues for both the mother and child; and the resources needed to help the family can be hard to get.

“Anything they put in their body is going to the baby’s body and while we don’t want to stop anyone from something they enjoy, they do need to know that there are potential effects from that, both on their health and on the baby’s health,” said Paul Caruso, neonatologist at SoutheastHEALTH.

He said substance use during pregnancy is something they’re seeing far too often in southeast Missouri.

“Over the last 20 years, we have seen 10-to-40-fold increase in the number of women who are using substances, drugs, opioids, marijuana, alcohol during pregnancy,” he said.

Some of those drugs can cross the placenta, harming the baby, he said.

“We see a higher risk of fetal loss, or babies dying during the pregnancy,” he explained. “We see a higher risk of low-birth-weight babies, premature babies and different complications during the pregnancy.”

In 2018, prescription pain relievers, marijuana and alcohol were the most common substances used by pregnant women, according to Missouri’s pregnancy risk assessment monitoring system.

At Gibson Recovery Center, they have treatments specifically for expecting mothers.

“We’re not just treating one person at this point, we are treating two, and we have to be cognizant of that,” said Ryan Essex, chief operating officer at the Gibson Recovery Center. “It’s a real problem.”

However, Essex said it’s not a problem that can’t be fixed.

“We don’t judge,” he said. “We know that people get into bad situations sometimes and like I mentioned earlier, these things can snowball.”

He said expecting mothers aren’t doing it to harm the baby.

“Each time they use, it becomes less and less of a choice and more and more of a physiological need,” he said.

When they get the help they need, he said there’s responsibility and the feeling of “I’m bringing someone new into the world and that I need to protect them.”

Caruso said it’s up to you whether or not you bring a healthy child into this world.

“You can make the choice to get treatment and if you get treatment during the pregnancy, then we can help you get into a better state of health both for yourself and for your baby,” he said.

Copyright 2021 KFVS. All rights reserved.