- Kratom, a legal herbal supplement, may induce opioid-like withdrawal symptoms in newborns if consumed by the mother during pregnancy.
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has classified compounds in kratom as opioids, following a computer analysis which showed that it stimulates receptors in the brain that also react to opioids.
- Health experts, such as neonatologists and maternal-fetal specialists, highlight a need for further research into kratom’s properties and potential impacts, especially during pregnancy.
- Open communication between expectant mothers and their healthcare providers is crucial, especially about any over-the-counter or holistic supplements being consumed during pregnancy, such as kratom.
Kratom, although a legal, herbal supplement and widely accessible, could potentially induce opioid-like withdrawal implications in newborns. This alarming connection observed in few cases in the USA necessitates deeper investigation, according to health experts.
Uncovering Evidences of Kratom’s Impact
The focus of a recently reported instance centered around a young boy whose mother used Kratom during her pregnancy. This report, being one among the very few documented cases within the US, possibly hints towards a growing inclination among expectant women to explore substitutes to opioid painkillers like morphine, heroin, and oxycodone.
“Pregnant women are increasingly aware of the risks associated with the consumption of prescription and over-the-counter opioids during their gestation period,” says the study’s author, Dr. Whitney Eldridge, a reputed neonatologist based in Florida.
The Hidden Side of Kratom
“Given the rising use of opioids among expectant mothers, my worry is that they may perceive kratom as a seemingly safe, legal, non-opioid relief for opioid withdrawal, given that its opioid-like attributes are not prominently publicized,” Eldridge adds.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration marked compounds in kratom as opioids. This was based on a computer analysis demonstrating that it stimulates receptors in the brain that also react to opioids.
Further Explorations Required
The case, documented online, centered around a baby boy whose mother had previously been dependent on oxycodone, but had triumphantly completed substance rehabilitation. She had last consumed oxycodone two years before her baby’s birth, and tested negative for any drug use.
In this particular case, the newborn boy exhibited symptoms compatible with opioid withdrawal just 33 hours post-birth. These symptoms included sneezing, jitteriness, excessive suck, scratching at the skin around his face, and irritability.
The mother refuted traces of prescription medications, supplements or illegal drugs during her pregnancy. However, the baby’s father reported that she consumed kratom tea daily during pregnancy to aid with sleep and manage personal opioid withdrawal symptoms.
Treated with morphine and a common blood pressure medicine, the boy’s health improved and he was discharged from the hospital when he was 8 days old.
Raising Awareness among Physicians
“Beyond this case, I was oblivious to the existence of kratom and its potential to induce withdrawal in newborns,” said Eldridge. “As awareness grows, there is a need for pediatricians and obstetricians to familiarize themselves with its potential impact.”
We need further research to better understand and gauge Kratom’s properties. Eldridge also stressed the importance of pregnant women to discuss kratom use with their doctors, just as they would with alcohol or tobacco consumption, as a part of their prenatal care.
Her sentiments were reflected by Dr. Martin Chavez, head of maternal-fetal medicine at NYU Winthrop Hospital, who emphasized thorough investigations into any form of alternate medications, whether over-the-counter, holistic or those given by a family member, a pregnant woman may be consuming.
Open Communication is Key
“The most important thing is, just because it’s not being prescribed doesn’t mean it’s not having a potential impact on the baby,” Chavez stressed. He encouraged pregnant women and new mothers to foster open dialogues with their healthcare providers about any medications they might be taking to address discomforts or symptoms.
The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse provides further information on kratom.