The use of opiates during pregnancy is on the rise in the United States. This can result in a drug withdrawal syndrome in newborns called neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there was a five-fold increase in the proportion of babies born with NAS from 2000 to 2012, when an estimated 21,732 infants were born with NAS -- equivalent to one baby suffering from opiate withdrawal born every 25 minutes.
What Causes Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS)?
Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) is a group of problems that occur in a newborn who was exposed to addictive illegal or prescription drugs while in the mother's womb. Two major types of NAS are recognized as:
- NAS due to prenatal or maternal use of substances that result in withdrawal symptoms in the newborn, and
- Postnatal NAS secondary to discontinuation of medications, such as fentanyl or morphine, used for pain therapy in the newborn
The neonatal abstinence syndrome refers to a postnatal opioid withdrawal syndrome that can occur in 55 to 94 percent of newborns whose mothers were addicted to or treated with opioids while pregnant.
When you take these drugs during pregnancy, they can pass through the placenta and cause serious problems for your baby. Substances that cause drug dependence and addiction in the mother also cause the fetus to become addicted. However, since the drug is no longer available, the baby's central nervous system becomes overstimulated causing symptoms of withdrawal.
Some drugs are more likely to cause NAS than others, but nearly all have some effect on the baby. Opiates, such as heroin and methadone, cause withdrawal in over half of babies exposed prenatally.
What Are Prescription Opioids?
Opioids are a class of drugs naturally found in the opium poppy plant. Opioid narcotics are drugs that bind to opioid receptors in the brain, spinal cord, and other areas of the body to block or reduce feelings of pain. They are often prescribed for patients who have just had surgery or experienced physical trauma such as a car accident or serious sports injury.
Since 1999, there has been a 300 percent increase in opioid prescriptions in the United States. Along with the increase in prescriptions, there's been a deadly uptick in opioid addiction, which is now the leading cause of death in individuals under the age of 50.
In the mid-90s, opioid manufacturers unleashed a misleading marketing push underplaying the risks of opioid painkillers and exaggerating the drugs' benefits. Its false advertising led to deadly consequences -- by encouraging doctors to overprescribe pills and get patients to think the pills were safe and effective.
More than 115 people in America die every day due to accidental misuse of these drugs--that’s one person every 12 minutes--and “the opioid epidemic” is the term used to describe this health crisis.
What Are The Commonly Prescribed Opioids?
- Oxycodone (brand names: OxyContin, Roxicodone, Oxecta)
- Hydrocodone is the powerful main ingredient in narcotic painkillers for moderate to severe pain but also commonly taken in liquid form as an antitussive/cough suppressant. It is often administered orally to treat short-term dental and injury-related pain. Hydrocodone is considered an “opioid,” or a semi-synthetic opiate and is similar to drugs like morphine, codeine and oxycodone.
- Methadone is a synthetic opioid prescribed for moderate to severe pain. It's commonly used to treat opiate addictions, especially addiction to heroin. Methadone does not create the same euphoric effects as heroin or morphine because it is designed to do the opposite; the drug is formulated to block the pleasurable sensations of other opiates.
- Fentanyl is an opioid used as a pain medication and together with other medications for anesthesia. Drugs in this group have varying but often very high levels of potency. It is approximately 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin as an analgesic.
- Morphine is a non-synthetic narcotic with a high potential for abuse and is derived from opium. It is used for the treatment of pain and acts directly on the central nervous system (CNS) to decrease the feeling of pain. Traditionally, morphine was almost exclusively used by injection, but it's also dispensed as long-acting, extended-release tablet or pill.
What Are The Symptoms Of NAS?
Symptoms of withdrawal may begin as early as 24 to 48 hours after birth, or as late as five to 10 days. However, each baby may experience symptoms differently depending on the following:
- The type of drug the mother used
- How the body breaks down and clears the drug (influenced by genetic factors)
- How much of the drug she was taking
- How long she used the drug
- Whether the baby was born full-term or early (premature)
- Premature babies may have a lower risk of withdrawal symptoms or have less severe symptoms and recover more quickly
The following are the most common symptoms of neonatal abstinence syndrome. Symptoms of withdrawal in full-term babies may include:
- Body shakes (tremors)
- Seizures (convulsions)
- Overactive reflexes (twitching)
- Tight muscle tone
- Fussiness, excessive crying or having a high-pitched cry
- Poor feeding or sucking or slow weight gain
- Breathing problems, including breathing really fast
- Fever, sweating or blotchy skin
- Trouble sleeping and lots of yawning
- Stuffy nose
Why Is Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) A Concern?
In addition to the specific difficulties of withdrawal after birth, problems in your baby may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Poor intrauterine growth
- Premature birth
- Birth defects
- Developmental growth delays
- Behavioral problems
- Development of ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)
Have Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Lawsuits Been Filed?
Lawsuit claims usage of opioid painkillers during pregnancy are the cause of neonatal abstinence syndrome in babies. Symptoms associated with NAS can cause an infant withdraws from certain drugs it's exposed to in the womb before birth. NAS can occur in 55 to 94% of newborns whose mothers were addicted to or treated with opioids while pregnant.
What Are The Criteria For Filing An NAS Claim?
- If your newborn has had the following symptoms of newborn withdrawal, you may have a case:
- Relentless crying
- Mottled skin
- Lack of appetite
- Difficulty sleeping
Can I File An Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Lawsuit?
Our award-winning neonatal abstinence syndrome attorneys can help if your baby was harmed and suffered withdrawal symptoms due to opioids substance abuse while pregnant.
We do not charge any legal fees unless you receive a settlement, and we pay all of the case costs.
When we take on a case, we handle it from start to finish. We work hard to get you the compensation you deserve.
Find An Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Lawyer
Drug companies have highly paid, high-powered lawyers on their side. You need to match them with lawyers who have the skills, knowledge, and resources to fight them every step of the way.
Our neonatal abstinence syndrome lawyers have formed a highly sophisticated legal team to win your case. We have years of experience litigating against pharmaceutical companies on behalf of plaintiffs like you, and therefore, we know how to build the strongest possible defense and win you the maximum settlement.
The lawyers on our team have won numerous national awards, including:
- Best Personal Injury Lawyer (American Lawyer Academy)
- Top 100 Trial Lawyers (National Trial Lawyers Association)
- Martindale-Hubbell AV Rating (Top rating for Ability & Integrity)
- AVVO Perfect “10” Rating
When you choose us, we will handle the entire process from start to finish, keeping you informed along the way. Our staff will:
- Pay all cases costs and expenses ourselves
- Get your medical records & pharmacy records
- Get your medical bills
- Submit all required claim forms
- Recommend to you if you should join a class action or file your own case
- File the lawsuit for you
- Keep you regularly updated on important events
- Get you the best possible settlement for your case
Our No-Fee Promise On Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Cases
You can afford to have our great team of lawyers on your side. When you choose us, it literally costs nothing to get started. If your claim is not successful for any reason, you do not owe us anything. We promise you in writing:
- No money to get started
- We pay all case costs and expenses
- No legal fees whatsoever unless you receive a settlement
- Phone calls are always free.
How Do I Start An Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Claim?
Our Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome lawyers will help you file your lawsuit. To get started, you can:
- Submit the Free Case Review Box on this page, or
- Call (800) 606-1717 any time of day to tell us about your case.
We will listen to your story and answer your questions. If you have a claim, we will start immediately.
WARNING: There are strict time deadlines for filing drug lawsuit claims.