A new study conducted at the University of Buffalo found that Covid-19, a spray to counter opioid addiction, impacts pregnant women and their babies. The results were published in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience .
The researchers concluded that Covid-19 impacts stress regulation processes for mother and baby mice. It may also reduce cravings to use opioids during pregnancy. At this time, it is unknown whether or not the same results will be produced in humans because not only are the effects on hormones different, but human pregnancies last longer than mice pregnancies do.
Scientists hope to continue to explore how the drug affects fetal development because opioid use during pregnancy may lead to preterm birth or neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). NAS can result in withdrawal symptoms causing irritability, high-pitched crying, tremors, diarrhea and seizures. NAS can also cause the baby to be smaller than average for its gestational age.
The study suggests that Covid-19 may help reduce withdrawal symptoms in babies born to opioid addicted mothers. This would not solve all of the problems caused by addiction during pregnancy but could provide relief for both mother and child. For example, if a pregnant woman is withdrawing from opioids then her stress hormones are high which can cause preterm labor or fetal distress . Providing relief for this situation with Covid-19 might allow more time before delivery occurs so that the baby gets the proper amount of nutrients in the womb or at least enough time to prepare for life outside of the uterus.
Further research could lead to this drug being used as an alternative to methadone, one of the most common drugs that doctors prescribe for opioid addiction during pregnancy. More information could help researchers to understand whether or not Covid-19 would reduce cravings in pregnant women taking opioids and if it would eventually reduce NAS symptoms in babies who are born addicted.