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Lortab Abuse And Pregnancy: Effects and Risks

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

Medically reviewed by

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

May 9, 2019

Lortab is an addictive opioid that can put both mother and baby at risk during pregnancy. Lortab abuse during pregnancy can cause the mother to become dependent on or addicted to the drug. It can also cause fetal health complications.

Lortab is a prescription pain medication used to treat moderate to severe pain. Hydrocodone, an active compound in Lortab, is an opioid. As such, this drug comes with a high risk of abuse and addiction.

There are a number of reasons why someone may take Lortab during pregnancy. Someone may already be addicted to Lortab and choose to continue using the drug while pregnant. Additionally, a woman may use Lortab before she knows she is pregnant.

Using Lortab during pregnancy can put both mother and child at risk for a number of potential health conditions. For the mother, these can include addiction, dependence, and overdose. For the unborn child, health risks include neonatal abstinence syndrome and birth defects.

How Does Lortab Abuse Affect The Mother And Fetus During Pregnancy?

Taking Lortab during pregnancy can be dangerous for both the mother and unborn child. Opioids during pregnancy are associated with many risk factors that can negatively impact the fetus and mother’s health.

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One major risk of taking Lortab while pregnant is the possibility of physical dependence and addiction. When someone is dependent on opioids, the body needs the drug just to feel normal. This can impact how the baby develops in the body and how the woman responds to pregnancy.

Additional potential side effects of Lortab abuse during pregnancy include:

Preterm Delivery — Preterm birth is when a baby is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Premature delivery can put the baby at risk for health complications.

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) — This condition is when the baby is born addicted to Lortab and goes through withdrawal symptoms after birth. Withdrawal symptoms in a newborn can include seizures, poor feeding, fever, and irritability.

Neural Tube Defects — This is when the baby is born with defects of the spinal cord, brain, or spine.

Miscarriage Or Stillbirth — Abusing Lortab during pregnancy can cause the mother to lose the baby or a stillbirth.

Low Birth Weight — The baby can experience stunted growth in the womb, leading to lower birth weight.

Congenital Heart Defects — The baby may be born with defects affecting the heart.

Risks Of Abusing Lortab After Birth

In addition to being dangerous during pregnancy, abusing Lortab after the baby is born can also pose risks. This is especially true for mothers who breastfeed their babies.

Drugs that a mother takes while breastfeeding can directly affect the newborn. Hydrocodone, the active ingredient in Lortab, can be passed to the baby through the breast milk.

Abusing Lortab while breastfeeding can cause the baby to experience signs of opioid use. These may include drowsiness, trouble breathing, and limpness. All of these side effects can put the baby at risk for additional health problems.

Because a baby is much smaller than a grown adult, even small amounts of Lortab in a baby’s system can put him or her at risk for overdose. Overdose for an infant can be deadly and medical attention should be sought immediately.

Treatment For Lortab Abuse And Addiction

A number of women who become pregnant struggle with opioid abuse and addiction. Luckily, there are several specialized treatment programs specifically for pregnant women suffering from a substance use disorder.

These treatment programs typically involve detoxification, inpatient treatment, and aftercare plans. Each stage of treatment is designed to meet the needs of pregnant women and provide the support and care needed to recover.

Many maternal treatment programs offer a variety of treatment solutions. These may include parenting classes, relapse prevention, and medical care. A number of these specialized programs are covered by public and private insurance plans.

To learn more about the effects and risks of abusing Lortab during and after pregnancy, contact a treatment specialist today.

National Institute on Drug Abuse - Opioid Overdose Crisis, Dramatic Increases in Maternal Opioid Use and Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

U.S. National Library of Medicine, MedlinePlus - Opiate and opioid withdrawal, Neonatal abstinence syndrome, Oxycodone

MedlinePlus - Pregnancy and Opioids


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