Pubdate: Wed, 08 Jul 2015
Source: Boston Globe (MA)
Copyright: 2015 Globe Newspaper Company
Author: John J. McCarthy


Re "Born with a burden" (Page A1, June 28): First, let me commend the 
Globe and Felice J. Freyer for an excellent article on the 
emotionally charged and difficult topic of the effects of opiate 
dependence on pregnant women and their babies. It showed that 
pregnancy during addiction can be a positive life-transforming event, 
as impossible as this seems. Rather than being a victim, as the 
article's subhead suggests, the baby can be a catalyst for change. 
With proper medical care and addiction treatment, the pregnancy can 
be healthy and the mother ready for her role as a parent.

Maintenance on methadone or buprenorphine is critical to keep the 
fetus in the womb from going into a stressful, potentially 
life-threatening opiate withdrawal. The medications keep the fetus healthy.

In addition, studies in Canada and England have shown that if, rather 
than separate the mother from her baby by using a neonatal intensive 
care unit, we instead allowed the mother to soothe, nurse, and 
comfort her baby in all the ways mothers instinctively do, then the 
baby would have less need for morphine treatment. Employing this 
so-called rooming-in model would lower the need for NICUs and would 
reduce hospital costs.

Dr. John J. McCarthy, Sacramento, Calif.

The writer is a specialist in addiction medicine and psychiatry at 
the University of California, Davis.
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