A new report describes the case of a newborn and his mother, an oxycodone user who took kratom to alleviate her withdrawal symptoms during her pregnancy. The newborn had to be treated with morphine for withdrawal symptoms even at just a few days old.
Newborn’s Kratom Withdrawal
A newborn underwent treatment for neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) possibly due to his mother’s ingestion of kratom tea during her pregnancy. The infant experienced NAS symptoms such as jittering, excessive sucking, facial excoriations, resting tremors, and irritability.
Evidently, the unnamed mother used oxycodone for seven years but stopped and had not used oxycodone for two years prior to the delivery of her child. She had also finished rehabilitation and says that she did not touch narcotics in the duration of her pregnancy. In fact, both she and her newborn tested negative in urine tests for oxycodone and opioids.
However, the test did not look for traces of kratom. According to the woman’s husband, she used kratom daily so as to help with her with sleep as well as with her withdrawal symptoms. It was then that the infant was diagnosed with NAS, transferred to NICU, and treated for withdrawal with morphine and clonidine for days before being discharged from the hospital when he was eight days old.
According to the report, this case is only the second case of an infant born in the United States with NAS due to kratom exposure.
Kratom leaves are indigenous to Southeast Asia and can be sold in pill, capsule, or extract form, while some use the leaves for tea, for chewing, or even for food and smoking. It has long been used medically as an analgesic for pain and as treatment for opium withdrawal, and it has also been used recreationally for its mind-altering effects.
In the United States, the use of kratom has been on the rise, especially since it can be easily marketed and sold online as well as in retail stores, highlighting its potential to help with opioid withdrawal. However, while many are supportive of kratom-use as a dietary supplement, the FDA has repeatedly warned the public about its potentially addictive properties that may lead to dependence. In fact, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. has even stated that use of it could even contribute to the opioid crisis instead of alleviating it. As with the problems with the opioid crisis, it affects even the innocent.
“As highlighted by our case, it is important for pediatricians to be aware of nonprescription self-treatments for opioid withdrawal,” the authors write, noting that kratom does not show up in urine tests. “Pediatricians need to ask specifically about nonprescription uses during pregnancy when taking histories from mothers with opioid dependence to better care for their newborns.”
The case is reported in the journal Pediatrics.