While opioids have their place in the medicine cabinets of some patients, many others, including pregnant women, should never have never be prescribed these drugs. It is common knowledge that many substances that the mother exposes herself to can cause harm to a developing fetus. Opioid drugs are some of the most harmful for newborns to be exposed to in utero. These babies are often born with severe health concerns and go through a difficult time withdrawing from the opioids.
If you are a grandparent or other family member caring for a baby exposed to opioids from its mother, you should be aware of the outcomes of Ohio Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). An experienced attorney may be able to help you file a lawsuit to receive financial compensation for any damages you suffer. The effects of opiates on a newborn can be devastating but a compassionate dangerous drugs attorney can help.
What is Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS)?
Just as adults can have physical problems when withdrawing from opioids, newborns can as well. The CDC reports that approximately every 25 minutes a baby is born with opioid withdrawal. The term for this group of symptoms in infants caused by withdrawal from opiates is Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS).
As published in the British Medical Journal, NAS is more severe and more likely to occur when the fetal exposure to opioids occurs later in pregnancy. The longer the exposure lasts, the more severe NAS may be as well. When opioid use is combined with the use of alcohol or other illicit drugs, the risk for NAS is compounded.
Effects of NAS
Both prescribed and illegal opioids can cause a newborn to suffer from NAS, leading to growth restriction and potentially breathing or eating problems. NAS can also cause noticeable symptoms such as excessive high-pitched crying, irritability, convulsions, poor sleep, uncoordinated sucking reflex, and heavy sweating in infants. These symptoms can begin as early as 24 hours to ten days after birth. Other outcomes of NAS include:
- Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome (NOWS)
- Neural tube defects (Spinal Bifida)
- Congenital heart defects
- Premature births
Children may also experience developmental delays, ADHD, impulsivity, aggressiveness, speech problems, depressed respiration or hypoxia, poor response to stressful situations, poor memory, impaired verbal performance, reading, and arithmetic skills, and poor mental and motor defects. A lawyer who understands the outcomes of Ohio Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) can help a family identify their options.
Treatment for NAS
Several interventions can help treat or decrease the severity of symptoms in babies with NAS. Breastfeeding, when possible, skin-to-skin contact, a low stimulation environment that is quiet and dark, and pharmacologic therapies are all helpful strategies.
As these children get older, play therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and occupational and speech therapies may help in treating NAS and achieving a positive outcome.
Some children may need frequent medical monitoring and care. However, these interventions may not be appropriate for every child as the outcomes of Ohio Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) may present differently in each patient.
Damages in an Ohio NAS Claim
According to Ohio Code § 2323.43, there are no limits to the amount of economic damages plaintiffs could be awarded by a judge or a jury for cases related to NAS. Economic damages include actual expenses such as medical or travel expenses and lost wages.
Under the same law, non-economic damages are limited to at $250,000 or three times that of the plaintiff’s economic damages. Non-economic damages are less concrete and include pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life. Consulting with an experienced lawyer could help potential plaintiffs understand how much compensation they may be entitled to and how that amount might be determined.
Get Help for Ohio Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) from an Attorney
The outcomes of Ohio Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) can impact a baby for a lifetime, causing medical, behavioral, and learning problems. The grandparents or other caregivers may be left struggling to pay for the effects of the opiate use of the mother during her pregnancy.
They may struggle financially to pay for medical bills and therapies as well as the normal expenses associated with raising a child.
Additionally, caring for a child with NAS is often mentally and emotionally taxing. Unfortunately, nothing can change the past. However, connecting with a seasoned attorney in Ohio may lead to compensation for the damages caregivers face. Contact an attorney today to learn more.