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Neo-natal Abstinence Syndrome: got an official diagnosis

Furcifer December 10, 2019 14:07

Quick, someone call Bletchley Park, I’ve only gone and cracked the code and managed to actually log in here! I’ve enjoyed my irregular forays to the Dark Side (ok, Mumsnet), but how I’ve missed the lived experiences and the incredibly generous sharing of the wealth of expertise and insights from all those who have trodden the path before me. Mumsnet is fun (especially as I am quite good at swearing!) but AUK forums are hardcore, and I’m not ashamed to get all misty-eyed and say I’ve missed them.

My ‘community’ name is different but I’m happy to PM anyone who thinks they may know me of old.

I’m a single adopter to two non-birth siblings, one of whom is about to turn 12, and the other is three. My elder daughter was placed with me as a baby and she has just been given an official diagnosis of neo-natal abstinence syndrome, written by a consultant specialist on 100% GENU-WINE NHS letterhead!). Honestly, I felt like I’d been handed an original copy of the Magna Carta when she gave me the letter that confirms to me that everything we’ve lived and experienced for the past 11 years can be explained by my child’s birth mother’s opiate use while pregnant.

Of course, every silver lining has a black cloud, and the formal diagnosis comes on the back of sudden and profound sight loss, to the extent that my ‘easy-to-place/no-needs’ baby is now registered blind. Remarkably, she passed the 11+ for a super-selective Grammar school and she is flourishing in the first term of her first year, where all her visual and associated needs are being met fully by a kick-ass pastoral team.

Just wondered if anyone else had been given a diagnosis of NAS, and, if so, what it meant for their child, family and relationships with professionals?

BeckyAUK December 11, 2019 09:14

An actual diagnosis is like gold dust! I must admit though that I don't know much about NAS. Do you have links to any online info/support that other forum users might find of interest? I fostered a couple of babies who were withdrawing at birth and my queries about the long-term impacts were always waved away by social workers, who seemed to think that it would all be ok in the end, which makes me think that those children's adopters would not have been forewarned of any long-term effects.

CatLady1 December 11, 2019 11:57

My grandchild was born dependent on heroin (and probably other things too). LO was treated for withdrawal symptoms for months. Apart from being very small, at 3 years old there are no other obvious symptoms. Yet. Doctors have said all appears to be ‘fine’ and LO has been given a clean bill of health. There are no learning difficulties, in fact LO seems very bright, way ahead with language and comprehension, doing everything expected re motor skills etc etc. Social workers and medics effectively said they just don’t know how things will turn out in the long term.

Furcifer, I was interested to hear that your daughter has only now been given an official diagnosis of NAS. Was there never any mention of it in her early records? I assume that with my grandchild, being born with NAS and treated for it, it must be on their health records. So far it seems not to have raised any issues, but LO is still very young.

There are other things aplenty to deal with: anxiety, sleep problems, attachment issues, a very keen vigilance (not sure if it’s ‘hyper’). But how much is down to NAS and how much down to the losses and traumas of adoption in general, it’s hard to know. Certainly there were plenty of unpleasant in-utero things going on, including DV and all that goes with a chaotic lifestyle.

There is so little research into the longer term effects of NAS and very little that looks in depth into the effects of upbringing on children born drug dependent e.g growing up in a safe, settled home with adoptive parents as opposed to staying in a chaotic household or a ‘just about coping’ household. I would hope that, given the growth of drug taking during pregnancy, more comprehensive research will soon be available.

chestnuttree December 11, 2019 13:08

I am so sorry about your daughter's health problems! That is very sad. One of my daughters was born heroin-dependent. She had to be transferred to a different hospital and stay there for a while. We don't know much about it though, because she was born abroad. She is 13 now, has no health issues and is in the top band of her year. She suffers from some effects of trauma, but I don't think any of it is NAS related. She is very small, but so is her birth mother.

As far as I know it is incredibly difficult to conduct studies on the effects of specific drugs. Over 80% of female users are multi-drug users and I would guess that 100% of them take whatever they can get in case their drug of choice is unavailable. So it is very difficult to establish which drug causes what pre- and postnatally.

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