Babies born drug addicted

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by 5Angels, Oct 12, 2009.

  1. 5Angels

    5Angels New Member

    Hi All!
    I am still very new to the board, and have a question which no medical professional seems to be able to answer for me.
    A little background -- In July, we adopted two half brothers from another state. Their ages are 2 & 1. Both boys have been in foster care since birth. Both boys were born addicted to meth, as their birthmother is an addict and used heavily during both pregnancies. Both boys are still quite developmentally delayed and are involved in numerous therapies in order to help them to catch up and are improving drastically.
    The older of the two boys has a tendency to stare off into space for a period of 2-3 minutes without responding to anyone, even when called by name. According to medical reports, he had an MRI run at about a year old to rule out seizure type activities and all looked good. Since July, these "staring sessions" have continued and are sometimes followed by him smiling at nothing and seeming to react to something that is not there. Does anyone know if there is a direct correlation between drug exposure in utero and a specific mental disorder? I'm told "Don't worry about it" by our pediatrician, but he just seems to lose touch with reality on a regular basis. I am very proactive when it comes to getting care for my kids, so I want to do what is best for him. Any thoughts?
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I adopted a two year old (now sixteen) who had been exposed to everything in utero. I learned quite a bit about these kids because I had no choice. Pediatricians know very little about drug exposed kids. Been there/done that.

    1/If they were exposed to meth, they were also exposed to alcohol. Make sure they are tested by people who understand the very special needs our kids can have...they could be on the fetal alcohol spectrum. If the birthmothers (both of ours) didn't say no to meth and crack, they sure didn't say no to alcohol and alcohol can cause brain damage. Not pleasant, but it's best to take the boys to a clinic (most of them are in big cities and universities) who can pinpoint what affects the drugs and alcohol have had on the boys.

    2/Drug affected/alcohol affected children have a much higher rate of autistic spectrum disorder/Learning Disability (LD) problems/hyperactivity/seizures/behavioral problems that are caused by neurological damage and mental illness (since parents who are drug abusers usually are also mentally ill). We don't know much about our son's birthmother, but we assume she had mental health issues that contributed to her drug abuse, although she was also VERY poor...and hopelessness isn't a mental illness :(. He was her fifth drug affected child.

    3/These kids should be seen by specialists. Don't trust the boys to a regular doctor who has had no extra training in the neurological/psychiatric problems that go along with drug exposure/alcohol exposure. I would see a neuropsychologist and, like I said earlier, take them both to a clinic for evaluation by doctors used to evaluating children for fetal alcohol affects. I know there's a good one in Chicago. We went there. I assume they have them all over.

    4/Expect to have trouble with diagnosing and expect the boys to perhaps surprise you with strange symptoms. There is no ONE thing caused by drug/alcohol exposure. Rather, the kids themselves tend to have a variety of problems, some worse than others, and you sort of have to keep evaluating them and see as they go. Many of the kids are emotionally liable.

    We were kind of "lucky." Our son was delayed, but his only problem is autistic spectrum disorder and he's doing pretty well. He is n Occupational Therapist (OT) the same as a child who was not exposed to drugs/alcohol, but he is actually much, much better than most, and we feel very blessed to have him. He is a great kid, smart, and sweet. He is mainstreamed this year and is getting ready to drive. It didn't come easy. He had interventions since before he came into our house and we continued to make sure he got yearly evaluations to see his progress and interventions. He will always be a little different, but he's doing really, really well. :D

    Yours can too. In all, my son saw a few neurologists, three NeuroPsychs (the last one being the best one), psychiatrists, therapists, speech therapists, occupational therapists, social skills coaches and had special education so that he didn't have to learn in a big classroom, which didn't work as well for him as a small one.

    It all paid off and we didn't pay a dime. Most came from school.

    One last thing: L. was misdiagnosed with a slew of diagnoses until they found the right one. This too is common with our difficult-to-figure-out drug exposed babies. We have to keep on truckin', so to speak.
  3. nodramamama

    nodramamama New Member

    My daughter also had the "staring off into space/going blank" stuff going on when I first got her as my foster kid at 10 months. She'd been drug-exposed to who-knows-what. We had her tested and the doctor said no seizures - she had these "space out" moments until she was about 3, and then they disappeared. I have faith in the power of our drug-exposed kids' brains to rewire - at least to a certain extent! by the way, she's 13 now, diagnosed with ADHD and doing great! I've got my fingers crossed for you.
  4. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Welcome, and I am glad you found us - but very sorry you need us, Know what I mean??

    It is good to be proactive. Some docs will want to label you a worrier, or say that you are trying to find problems and if you relax it will all be OK.

    When a doctor does this, find a new one. You are new to these kids, relatively speaking, but you are their mom. You have finely tuned instincts that kicked into gear when you adopted them, when you took them into your arms and heart.

    These instincts will be your number one guide. Nurture them, trust them, believe in them. As a mom, the only times I made really huge mistakes were when I went against my instincts.

    It is highly likely that your children have been exposed to alcohol in utero. When the other drugs get hard to find an addict can find alcohol to help numb the problems quite easily.

    You really need to find an expert in fetal alcohol syndrome. There is a problem called fetal alcohol effect, or Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE). It is pretty ugly, and heartbreaking. Then there is a spectrum of problems called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), or fetal alcohol spectrum, which means they may ahve any of a wide range of problems to varying degrees. Both require the close care and early intervention of specialists. The more you do NOW, while they are young, the better they will be as adults. You have to work to develop their brain now, while it is really developing, as much as possible. ( I may have the initials reversed. Midwest Mom would have them correct, if I have mixed them up.)

    I am not sure why they did a "run of MRI" or what that is. Did they do just one brain MRI, was it a series of them? Or something else? Why didn't they do EEGs? Normally a pediatric neurologist will do a sleep deprived EEG to check for seizures. That is usually the first step.

    I would find a new pediatrician, one who doesn't want to "wait and see". You don't have time for that. I know it sounds bad, said that way, but it is true. You are losing valuable, precious beyond measure time to help them develop properly.

    then find developmental pediatricians to help figure out the Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE)/Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) problems and what other problems are there.

    You want a pediatrician. neurologist to check for seizures (these sound much like absence seizures), and an Occupational Therapist (OT) to check for sensory integration problems and proper muscle development.

    in my opinion the Occupational Therapist (OT) is one to really push hard on ASAP. It won't take as long to get in, and esp if there are sensory integration problems you can really change how their brain works with some simple, painless techniques like brushing therapy.

    Look at your adoption decree to see what supports are there. Call the county to see who does early intervention screenings. Go ahead and contact Head Start. They will have a LOT of things to offer, at least ours does.

    The more you do NOW, the better off the family will be later. Sadly chances are high that the kids will have problems. I am really sorry about that. But they are special and lovable and will teach you more about life and about what really matters in the long run than anything else in life could teach you.

    Stick around, check out the archives. There is a LOT of support, help and love here.

    It is a good idea to start a Parent Report. It is a document that has all the info for each child in 1 place, something you can copy all or part of and give to doctors. Here is the link to an outline parents here worked out:
  5. wen

    wen New Member

    We are guardians of a little girl that was extremely abused, born addicted to drugs, and has had many, many hospitalizations for suicide attempts.

    The doctors and specialists in the hospitals told us that when babies are in utero and their mothers do drugs, the wires in the brain do not connect/connect the proper way. They also ran many tests (MRI's, EEG's, neurological, etc.) while she was inpatient.

    It took one of the nurses explaining to us, that their is not any technology out there to determine which wires in the brain were not connected or "mis-wired". The nurse also explained that it is harder to medicate certain disorders because they do not have proper brain function. She gave the example of a normal (non-drug baby) being depressed, and the person would be helped by anti-depressants. In a drug baby, there is a lot of trial and error with medications.

    The one thing I have noticed is that if a medication or therapy starts to work on one behavior, we start seeing some other behaviors. It's a little frustrating at times, but we try to keep her balanced.

    We are surrounded by a therapists, and we are trying our best to raise this little girl.

    One bad thing I have noticed is she had a cough last year, and was given cough syrup with codeine. She woke up in the morning begging for more of that medicine. She was shaky and demanded more. I was a little scared of how one dose of medication could make her go back into that addictive mode so fast and so strong. (So, be careful of medications with addictive agents in them.)

    I am not trying to sound negative, just offer some suggestions, share experiences, and be a friend.

    Have a blessed day.
  6. Autismkids

    Autismkids Member

    I don't have specific experience here with drug addicted kiddos. Has he ever had an EEG? An MRI wouldn't be very useful except to say whether or not a seizure caused damage. And I would assume a child whose birth-mother used drugs and/or alcohol, would have an abnormal MRI anyway, or at least not perfectly normal.

    Did the MRI show anything? I'd go see a peds neuro and neuropsychologist, as well as finding a new pediatrician. Watching and waiting doesn't do anyone any good.
  7. mandysue

    mandysue New Member

    Last week my daughter gave birth to a little baby and she is currently withdrawing from cocaine( and other things I am sure). The babies father is an addict along with all of the people in the home she wants to bring the baby back to. DSS is involved and the baby stayed in the hospital while my daughter went home. The baby is doing very well, however I have read that the symptoms usually appear later in life. My question is, has anyone had experience with DSS in this regard? I am not allowed to visit or hold my grandaughter in the hospital because I was not about to pat my daughter on the head and tell her this was ok, I told her she was a child abuser. I have no idea who is more imprtant? How to keep everyone happy? Should I pretend in order to see the baby? Thanks in Advance.
  8. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    @5angels - Pre-natal drug exposure causes life long issues. I agree with MWM that you need them seen by specialists as 'regular' doctors often miss things. Hopefully your adoption subsidy is solid and you will be able to access help as needed.

    @mandysue - I would not pretend with your daughter. She has abused her baby and created life-long issues in a helpless child. Are you willing to take placement of your grandchild? If so, contact DSS ASAP and advocate that the baby be placed with you. If you are not willing to accept placement, you can ask for visits (they are not required to give them to you, but you can ask, you can also try and develop a friendship with the foster parents as they can choose to let you visit). If you do not want to develop a relationship with the baby, the best thing you can do is create a family medical history and family social history to be put in the baby's file.