Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) Lawsuit Attorneys Represent Opioid Addicted Baby Cases
The opioid epidemic continues to harm people day after day, including innocent children. The youngest of these victims are drug-addicted babies. The facts are that an opioid-addicted baby is born every 15 minutes, according to data provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and that number is on the rise. Around 32,000 opioid babies were born just in one year, 2014. These innocent addicted babies go on to suffer from opioid withdrawal, and they can also experience a host of longer-term problems. But while it’s easy to blame the mothers of kids born addicted to drugs, when it comes to opioids, it’s not that simple. At Parker Waichman LLP, we’re investigating potential opioid-addicted-baby lawsuits across the country, looking to hold drug companies responsible for their actions that led to these tragic results.
What Is it Called When a Baby Is Born Addicted to Drugs?
When a baby is born addicted to drugs, their condition is known as neonatal abstinence syndrome, or NAS. NAS is a group of health problems stemming from withdrawal from a drug that the baby was exposed to and became dependent on in the womb.
Health Effects on Opioid-Addicted Babies: Facts About Babies Born Addicted to Drugs
For drug-addicted babies, the facts about their short-term and long-term health can be heart-wrenching. Among the issues the child may face at birth are defects in vital organs such as the heart, kidneys, brain or intestines. It’s also likely that they’ll experience the symptoms of NAS, such as tremors, vomiting, poor feeding, sweating, sleep problems, and/or seizures. Babies who have been affected by drugs while in utero also have a significantly increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). And in the longer term, these children are more likely to experience developmental issues including delays in language development and a lower IQ.
The Opioid Epidemic and its Role in Births of Opioid-Addicted Babies
Opioids are given to patients to treat pain associated with a variety of injuries and medical treatments. Whether a person has suffered painful injuries in a car accident, sprained an ankle or been subject to the painful side effects of cancer and cancer treatments, opioids seem to be the go-to option for addressing the pain. However, when opioids flooded the market more than two decades ago, the primary purpose was supposed to be treating patients with terminal illnesses or immediately following surgery. But opioid manufacturers marketed their painkillers for nearly any type of pain-related issue, knowing that patients would become addicted and need more and more for the drug to keep working. Additionally, many patients were prescribed opioids without being offered any alternatives.
As more and more people have been prescribed these drugs, many of them on a long-term basis for injuries that traditionally were treated without opioids, opioid addiction has become an epidemic. And as a result, parents regularly taking opioids are having kids born addicted to drugs. Because manufacturers have pushed doctors to prescribe more and more opioids, innocent patients and their loved ones, including their children, are suffering the consequences while manufacturers are making billions of dollars.
Who Is to Blame for So Many Babies Being Born Addicted to Opioids?
Many people may believe that the mother should be to blame when a baby is born addicted to opioids. After all, the argument is that the mother chose to take opioids and other drugs, such as heroin, to satisfy their addiction. However, many of these mothers were initially prescribed opioids and followed their doctors’ instructions. Because opioids are so addictive, once someone starts taking these drugs, it can be hard to stop without suffering severe, sometimes life-threatening consequences.
When doctors decide to stop prescribing opioids to an addicted patient, the patient then may turn to street drugs to satisfy their addiction. If a mother becomes pregnant while addicted to opioids, it can actually be more dangerous to their health to stop taking opioids completely. Therefore, many babies are born addicted to opioids, which can have negative and sometimes permanent consequences for the baby’s development.
What is truly heart-wrenching is that many opioid-addicted mothers were not drug users before being prescribed opioids. Many of these mothers went to the doctor to address pain associated with a medical condition. Perhaps their doctors should share the blame in prescribing opioids for conditions that can be treated or managed in ways that do not involve highly addictive painkillers. But when manufacturers communicate false information to doctors about the addictive nature of their opioids, doctors rely on this information.
Do You Have a Legal Claim to Compensation?
Lawsuits filed over the past few years across the United States have alleged that the manufacturers of opioids knew just how addictive their painkillers are and misled both doctors and patients about the true risks of long-term use of opioids. If you or your baby may have a potential opioid claim, speaking with a lawyer at Parker Waichman will help you have a better understanding of what legal options may be available to you.
When suing on behalf of opioid-addicted babies, lawsuits can be filed individually or jointly with the mother’s own claim. Product liability lawsuits are complex, and a lawyer must evaluate a variety of factors when determining whether a client has a potential opioid-addicted-baby claim, including:
- Whether the mother was prescribed opioids by a doctor (such as Oxycontin, Percocet, hydrocodone, and fentanyl)
- The reason why the mother was prescribed opioids in the first place and was prescribed them on a long-term basis
- Whether the mother subsequently turned to street drugs such as heroin after their doctor stopped prescribing opioids
- What the mother’s life was like before being prescribed opioids (i.e., whether the mother has a history of drug abuse)
- Documentation that the baby was addicted to opioids at birth and the extent of the baby’s injuries
- Whether the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit has expired
There is a stigma attached to opioid-addicted individuals, and many people believe that those who are hooked on painkillers have reached this point through their own actions. But it’s important to remember that even the most upstanding citizens with no drug or criminal history can suffer from addiction only because they relied on information and instructions they received from their doctors about an opioid. Babies born addicted to these opioids all too often end up paying the price.
Get a Free Consultation With a Skilled Attorney Today
If your baby or child is suffering from opioid addiction, you should consider discussing your situation with a qualified lawyer as soon as possible. When you contact the experienced attorneys at Parker Waichman, we will work diligently to evaluate your potential legal claim and provide you with the insight and guidance you need to move forward.
Parker Waichman is a nationally recognized law firm with decades of experience representing individuals who have suffered at the hands of companies that make defective products and falsely represent their risks. Our law firm has been successful in helping clients receive more than $2 billion in compensation, and we have earned numerous accolades, including Lawdragon’s highest rating of “5 Dragons” and inclusion in Best Lawyers. If you’ve had an opioid-addicted baby, the lawyers at Parker Waichman would love to help you, too. Just call 1-800-YOUR-LAWYER (1-800-968-7529) today for a free consultation.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome
How Do You Soothe and Treat a Baby Born Addicted to Opioids?
Treatment depends on the severity of the addiction that the child is born with. If a child is born with addiction but is only showing mild signs of withdrawal, then it may come down to something as simple as making the child as comfortable as you can by limiting light and sound exposure and rocking them.
However, if the infant is showing more severe signs of withdrawal, then other treatment options may be necessary. Some doctors have used pharmacological treatment with drugs such as opioids, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, clonidine, and phenothiazines. The drawback to a pharmacological approach, though, is that it will often extend the time the infant is in the hospital and could potentially cause the parents to continually rely on drugs to treat the baby. Necessarily, the knowledge and skill of a physician is essential to proper treatment of an opioid-addicted baby.
What Drugs Can a Baby Be Born Addicted To?
Babies can be born addicted to many drugs, including codeine, heroin, methadone, oxycodone, and buprenorphine.
How Long Does it Take for a Baby to Withdraw?
It can take up to six months for the symptoms of withdrawal to entirely dissipate.
What Do They Give Newborns for Withdrawal?
Newborns in withdrawal are sometimes given medications including morphine, buprenorphine, and methadone.
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