Can Pregnant Patients Take Buprenorphine?

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Pregnant individuals can often utilize buprenorphine as an opioid replacement therapy. However, many individuals in this situation are recommended to use methadone instead. If you are struggling with an opioid addiction and need help now, call 800-442-6158 Who Answers? to find a safe rehab program that will suit your needs.

Pregnancy and Buprenorphine

Buprenorphine, just like other opioid drugs, causes individuals who use it to experience certain side effects. This is also true of pregnant patients and their babies. According to the National Library of Medicine, babies who have been exposed to buprenorphine are often born with a syndrome called neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). NAS can cause

Pregnant Patients

Taking buprenorphine while pregnant can help prevent miscarriage.

  • Seizures
  • Irritability
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • High-pitched or excessive crying
  • Failure to gain weight
  • Feeding problems
  • Diarrhea
  • Mottling (blotchy skin)
  • Hyperactivity
  • Fever
  • Increased muscle tone
  • Sneezing
  • Stuffy nose
  • Sweating
  • Tremors
  • Fast breathing
  • Constant or excessive sucking
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Problems sleeping

Still, when a patient has been suffering from an opioid addiction and is also pregnant, it is usually much safer for them to be maintained on a medication than to just stop using opioids completely. Sudden withdrawal can be especially dangerous for a pregnant patient and the unborn child, potentially causing miscarriage or premature birth (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). Therefore, your doctor will likely recommend that you to be maintained on some type of opioid drug, rather than going through withdrawal while pregnant.

Why Do Some Doctors Recommend Methadone?

Though your doctor may recommend you go one buprenorphine during your pregnancy, some doctors insist patients in this situation utilize methadone maintenance instead. According to SAMHSA, “Limited information exists on the use of buprenorphine in women who are pregnant and have an opioid dependency.” Therefore, the risk of serious side effects in pregnant patients and their babies has not been ruled out entirely when it comes to buprenorphine.

Methadone, on the other hand, has been studied extensively for its effects on pregnant patients and their children. The drug has been used as an opioid replacement therapy medication for over 40 years, and in this time, no significant adverse effects have been found that aren’t already associated with other types of opioids. Because of this, some doctors will still recommend methadone over buprenorphine when it comes to treating pregnant individuals.

Help, I’m Pregnant! Do I Need Help for Prescription Painkiller Addiction?

Which Option Is Right for Me?

Patients who have not started any particular option for their maintenance medication may be encouraged to utilize methadone just because there is so much research about how the drug affects pregnant patients. But if you were already on buprenorphine and became pregnant while being treated with the medication, your doctor will probably recommend that you stay on it. It is still necessary, though, that you speak with your doctor and ensure that you both agree on which treatment option is best before making any final decisions.

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