Drug Abuse Caring for the Smallest Victims of
Pediatric Interim Care Center, The Newborn Nursery

How long will it take to withdraw my baby from the drugs he was exposed to?

That will totally depend on your baby. The average time is usually between 30 to 60 days.


Can I withdraw my own baby?

Caring for a baby through this period can be very challenging even for those that are trained to do so. Caring for your baby at home and having the ability to keep him in a low stimulus environment 24 hours a day while offering him the support he needs would be extremely hard. If your baby requires medicinal support, he will need professional medical help to get him safely through this process. Without this, your baby is at risk of a seizure or stroke if not managed correctly.


Do you recommend breast-feeding for a baby prenatally exposed to the mother's substance abuse?

Absolutely not! Why would anyone intentionally offer a baby heroin, cocaine or methamphetamines, methadone or any other dangerous drug? To think that these drugs do not pass through the breast milk to the baby is wrong! Cocaine, for instance passes through the breast milk at a much more concentrated rate than in utero. To encourage a mother on drugs to breast feed is allowing her baby to ingest drugs.


What will my baby be like when he is through his withdrawals?

With the proper structure and parenting, your baby should do well. You, as a parent, now are the make or break factor in your child's life and learned behaviors. Drug exposure in utero is not an excuse for a child's negative behavior. Stimuli will be your child's greatest challenge in life; therefore, early in his life, the parent must introduce stimuli slowly and on a regular basis so the child can do well.


Is my baby going to have learning problems as he grows?

Not necessarily.


Compare the long term effects.

In regards to illegal drugs, there does not have to be any long term problems if the caregiver possess good parenting skills. Offering the child structure, continuity, parameters and boundaries along with introducing stimuli (light, sound , touch, etc.) slowly, these children are going to do very well. Without this, yes, there may be residual effects, but this is not the effect of the drug but the result of the assigned caregiver. Please remember in most cases the caregiver is the make or break factor whether or not there is drug involvement or not.


Could my baby have some deformities / retardation from my drug use?

If you are talking just about street drug use, we have not seen this happen to any of our babies at the Pediatric Interim Care Center.  If your baby was premature and had medical problems due to prematurity and you were taking drugs, then yes, drugs may have caused the early birth, but not the problems identified with a neonate.  If you are talking about alcohol, than that is a different story. Alcohol has entirely different effects on a baby.


Can you tell me what my baby will be like since I am on methadone?

No, I can tell you common symptoms (see "methadone") but no one knows what your baby is going to be like until he is born.


Is my baby going to need to be on medication for methadone withdrawal?

The Doctor will not know this until after the first 24-48 hours of life.


My sister is using cocaine. Is her baby going to have tremors and be hard to manage?

A baby with cocaine exposure does not have tremors and is not irritable but may have problems that you need to be aware of:

  • Generally small for gestational age.
  • Doesn't wake to feed.
  • Generally can not eat more than an ounce at a time.
  • At risk for dehydration due to feeding problems
  • At risk for failure to thrive.



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