Is Subutex Safe to Take When Pregnant?

Being pregnant is often a time of great joy for women. However, if you are suffering from substance abuse disorder, it might feel as though your world is collapsing. Although you might want to protect your unborn baby at all costs, if you have a serious opioid problem, you will need help getting clean quickly and as safely as possible. While you’re in rehab, Subutex might be recommended for you. It’s fair to wonder if it’s safe to take this medication during pregnancy.

What is Subutex?

Subutex is a type of medication that is also known as buprenorphine. It’s commonly used to treat individuals who have an addiction to opioids as it serves as a replacement. Subutex works by stimulating the receptors in the brain that respond to opioids and eases the cravings typically experienced.

According to a study, in spite of previous widespread confusion over the use of Subutex in pregnant women, the drug is considered safe for use during pregnancy. At the same time, it’s safe to wonder if doses that are too high could adversely affect the fetus and lead to withdrawal, also known as neonatal abstinence syndrome, in the baby.

How Can Subutex Affect Babies?

When pregnant women use Subutex as part of their therapy during rehab to eliminate opioids from their system, it’s fair to wonder if it’s safe to use it. Generally, Subutex is not an opioid itself in spite of being used as a replacement for such substances. However, there is still plenty of confusion about the drug and its effects on unborn babies. While it’s considered safe, pregnant women should have their guards up about Subutex.

Women who have already given birth should refrain from breastfeeding their babies if they are on Subutex as part of their rehab. The substances can be passed on to the baby through breastmilk and potentially lead to problems such as dependency. As a result, pregnant women who are taking Subutex who give birth while they’re still on the drug should find alternative means for feeding their babies.

All drugs are given letter codes by the Food and Drug Administration or FDA that reveal their safety level when taken by pregnant women. Codes can range from A to D and X, respectively. A is the safest level while X is known to cause birth defects. Subutex falls right in the middle as it carries a C code for use by pregnant women. However, in spite of the classification, it’s not known whether Subutex can absolutely cause problems in unborn babies.

Can Subutex Cause Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome?

In spite of the FDA declaring that Subutex is safe for pregnant women to take while undergoing rehab to curb their opioid addiction, it’s believed that the drug might have a link to neonatal abstinence syndrome or NAS. At the same time, it’s been found that the development of NAS in babies whose mothers took Subutex is rare. It’s also believed that the presence of NAS is due to pregnant women abusing opioids at some point during their pregnancies. It’s further believed that if a pregnant woman takes opioids later in her pregnancy, it increases the likelihood of the baby being born with NAS.

Symptoms of NAS in babies include the following:

  • Blotchy skin
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty feeding and gaining weight
  • Excessive crying
  • Fever
  • Hyperactivity
  • Seizures
  • Trouble sleeping

Other symptoms babies can experience include low birth weight, birth defects, developmental problems and heart defects.

Alternatives to Subutex for Pregnant Women

Pregnant women who struggle with opioid addiction who are concerned about taking Subutex might want to consider an alternative for their therapy. While Subutex is one of two medications considered safe by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Society of Addiction Medicine, it can be difficult to sway the mind and fears of an expectant mother. Methadone is the other drug that is used to treat opioid addiction during pregnancy. However, women who opt for methadone instead of Subutex must continue taking the drug throughout their pregnancies to prevent withdrawal, which can lead to complications such as premature delivery, fetal distress and stillbirth.

If you are a pregnant woman who is ready to curb your opioid addiction, you need help sooner rather than later. Contact us at 772-934-6580 to discuss the best option for you and your unborn baby.