Yes. A newborn infant is drug tested if the mother has a history of drug abuse, nicotine usage, or obstetric events like placental abruption or premature labor. Prenatal drug exposure may lead to long-term behavioral effects and growing deficit. If the mother is addicted to drugs or exposed to prescription drugs or illegal drugs during gestation, it may be detected in the meconium or umbilical cord tissue. Either way, drug testers use definitive medical analytics to identify the drug exposure to the child because preliminary urine testing can reflect false-negative results.
In this blog, you will be traveling through various aspects of infant drug tests and their significance on the child's health in the development stages.
Table of Contents
- Do They Drug Test A Baby After Delivery?
- What is Newborn Drug Testing?
- Newborn Drug Testing By State
- Do They Always Drug Test Newborns?
- Drug Testing Methods for Newborn Baby
- What Happens If A Newborn Is Tested Positive For Drugs?
- How To Prevent A Newborn From Drug Exposure?
What is Newborn Drug Testing?
Newborn drug testing is a method of testing for drugs done postpartum. Doctors recommend drug testing for mothers who have a history of drug exposure or drug abuse, either naturally or intentionally.
It is pretty unfair for the child to carry the responsibility for the mother's action. That is the emergence of newborn drug testing. The testing process is to prevent the child from getting infected by those harmful drugs primarily. Doctors prescribe drug testing for infants if they have any complex neurological conditions or intrauterine growth or complications. Newborn drug testing is not a compulsion for all infants. In fact, in the United States of America, their statute laws differ from one state to another.
Newborn Drug Testing By State
There are numerous differences among states regarding laws about drug abuse during pregnancy. Some states consider this as a serious offense and a heinous crime. While some states have some liberalization over the drug-abusing mothers, while putting the severity of the law in descending order, Tennessee is the only state in the United States to consider drug abuse during pregnancy as a crime. Alabama and South Carolina have considered maternity drug abuse as a serious offense and interpreted them into child endangerment and chemical abuse and endangerment act, respectively. Some states, including Minnesota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, involuntarily admit mothers with drug abuse to a rehabilitation program if drug consumption is detected. Eighteen other states have considered drug abuse during pregnancy as child abuse, which gets the CPS's involvement (Child Protective Services).
In some states like North Dakota, Iowa, and Kentucky, there would not be a drug test suggestion unless any complications occur during birth or any suspicion arises. It raises the question if all newborns are drug tested?
Do They Always Drug Test Newborns?
Not necessarily unless there is a need for the drug test if there is suspicion of maternity drug abuse or addiction, the severity of the law differs from one state to another. While some states consider it mandatory to test the mothers during pregnancy and postpartum, other states did not consider it stringent. In short, drug tests for newborns are done under certain circumstances like detecting drug metabolites in the meconium or umbilical cord tissue or any other complications related to it.
Have you ever wondered what kind of drug test they would conduct for newborn drug testing?
Drug Testing Methods for Newborn Baby
Mothers with a history of drug use/addiction, involved in prostitution or obstetric events such as premature labor or placental abruption are recommended to have their newborn babies' drug tested in the postpartum phase. Urine and blood drug testing methods are commonly not recommended for newborn babies. They usually use umbilical cord tissue and meconium to detect drugs.
Umbilical Cord Drug Testing
Umbilical cord testing exposes the drug(s) used during the third trimester of a full-term birth. Umbilical cord tissue testing can detect drugs such as opioids, stimulants, sedatives, hypnotics, etc. Weed and alcohol can be screened by using a separate drug detection panel. Specific mass spectrometric and highly sensitive methods are used for confirmation purposes.
Meconium Drug Testing
Meconium is the first poop that the baby excretes within 48 hours after birth. It is a thick green poop that contains proteins, fats, intestinal secretions, etc. Hence, it is the best source to detect any drug use during maternity by the mother. Meconium is qualitatively screened for nine drug metabolites. It involves a highly effective drug testing principle, including mass spectroscopic testing. A confirmatory test is recommended when targeted drug presence is above the clinical limit or the meconium quantity is very low. This test helps the panel identify the drug presence during the last trimester of a full-term birth.
What Happens If A Newborn Is Tested Positive For Drugs?
If the newborn is tested positive for drugs, the child would be isolated, incubated, and kept away from the mother until recovery. It is because the presence of drug metabolites in the infant's body may lead to seizures, respiratory issues, low birth weight, or may even cause death. It depends upon the intensity of drug consumption by the mother during pregnancy.
Drug presence in the newborn via the umbilical cord tissue and meconium would not stay long in the child's body since the umbilical cord is cut from the child during birth. The meconium is excreted out of the child's body within 48 hours of birth. Despite the excretion, if the baby is experiencing seizures or other respiratory problems, the baby will be isolated and incubated until betterment.
How To Prevent A Newborn From Drug Exposure?
Drug exposure in a newborn can be dealt with through prevention and rehabilitation. Once pregnancy is confirmed, one should try to stop consuming illegal drugs right from the first trimester; that is a prevention mechanism. If the drug usage is not mitigated and the infant is exposed to drugs, then the baby would be isolated and incubated until complete recovery.
It is a known fact that the infant's entire nutrition relies upon the mother's food habits. Whatever the mother eats, those substances will be absorbed by the fetus through the umbilical cord. So it is best to avoid taking any illicit substances during pregnancy to prevent the fetus from absorbing unwanted drug metabolites into their body.
Having or expecting a baby is a dream come true for all. Some even wait for years to get that precious gift. If you are the one who is blessed with such endorsement, it is in your best interests to protect it by any means. If you desire to protect your child from external health threats, you must defend it from the inside and prioritize drug intake control measures.