What You Need to Know About Taking Sufenta While Pregnant
Sufenta is a brand-name drug for the generic drug sufentanil. Sufentanil is a highly powerful synthetic opioid. Sufentanil is estimated to be anywhere from 5 to 10 times stronger than fentanyl, which is 100 times stronger than morphine. The strength of Sufenta makes it an extremely dangerous drug when it’s not used exactly as intended. Sufenta is a version of sufentanil that’s injected intravenously. It’s primarily used as part of general anesthesia. In some cases, it may be used as a primary anesthetic when a patient is going to be receiving anesthesia. Sufenta can be administered as an epidural as well during labor and delivery. Sufenta isn’t intended to be used outside of critical care facilities and operating suites. The idea is that Sufenta delivers powerful, fast pain relief that lasts for a brief period of time. Sufenta is only supposed to be administered under a doctor’s supervision because vitals and breathing need to be monitored.
Sufenta activates opioid receptors throughout the central nervous system. These opioid receptors control breathing and the heart rate. Opioids like Sufenta slow these functions. If a person isn’t carefully monitored while taking Sufenta, their breathing rate may become so slow that it’s dangerous or even deadly. Even though Sufenta and similar powerful opioids are only supposed to be used in carefully controlled and supervised medical settings, this isn’t always the case. There are circumstances in which Sufenta and other opioids are diverted from medical use and sold on the black market. There are also cases in which illicit manufacturers make their own versions of drugs like Sufenta. These are components of the ongoing opioid crisis in the U.S., which kills tens of thousands of people each year.
Is it safe to take Sufenta while pregnant? The answer to this question depends. First, Sufenta is likely to be safe if it’s administered as part of an epidural or procedure under the supervision of a team of medical professionals. In this case, it would likely be done only during labor and delivery. A baby is no longer developing at this point, so there isn’t a risk of birth defects. One risk is that the baby could be born experiencing some level of respiratory depression, although this is something that could be managed by the medical team. If Sufenta is taken at any other point in the pregnancy, there is an increased risk of certain birth defects and adverse effects.
If a mother uses or abuses Sufenta while pregnant, especially close to the time delivery the baby may be born dependent upon the drug. Babies born with substance dependence may experience neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). NAS can be mild or severe and symptoms can vary in duration. Some of the common symptoms of NAS related to Sufenta and opioids include excessive and high-pitched crying, muscle rigidity, tremors, and convulsions. Babies with NAS also tend to have problems suckling and feeding and, as a result, they may not gain adequate weight. Other NAS symptoms include yawning, sweating, fever, and sleep disturbances. If a baby is believed to have NAS, treatment in the NICU may be necessary. In severe cases, a baby may need to be administered a drug like methadone.
If a mother uses Sufenta while pregnant, especially close to the time delivery, the exposure to the baby may lead to dependence. Babies born with substance dependence may experience neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). NAS can be mild or severe, and symptoms can vary in duration. Some of the common symptoms of NAS related to Sufenta and opioids can include excessive and high-pitched crying, muscle rigidity, tremors, and convulsions. Babies with NAS also tend to have problems sucking and feeding, and as a result, they may not gain adequate weight. This can lead to something called failure to thrive. Other NAS symptoms are yawning, sweating, fever, and sleep disturbances. If a baby is believed to have NAS, treatment in the NICU may be needed. In severe cases, a baby may need a drug like methadone.
If you’re pregnant and concerned about your recreational abuse of Sufenta or other substances, speak with your healthcare provider. If you’ve been using Sufenta for a prolonged period of time, don’t stop using it without seeking medical advice first. Sufenta can cause withdrawal, which can lead to complications during pregnancy like miscarriage. Your doctor can help you determine what the best step for you to take is, for the safety of your baby and your own well-being. Many pregnant women who use substances like Sufenta benefit from a medically-supervised detox and addiction treatment.
If you’d like to learn more about these options, our team of addiction and treatment specialists is available to talk.
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