Skip to Content

Signs & Symptoms of Drug-Addicted Babies


Sadly, each and every day there are babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), a group of complications that occur at birth because the baby was born addicted to illegal or prescription drugs. Complications of neonatal abstinence syndrome include birth defects, low birth weight, or premature birth. These types of complications are avoidable meaning they would not have occurred if the baby was not exposed to drugs while inside the mother’s womb.

Types of Drugs

Illegal drugs that are commonly abused by women -- which are then passed on to the baby by the placenta -- include cocaine, marijuana, heroin, crystal meth and crack to name a few. While most people may think that drug-addicted babies are only affected by illegal drugs, babies can be born addicted to prescription drugs such as amphetamines, barbiturates, and benzodiazepines.

Signs & Symptoms

While the signs and symptoms of drug-addicted babies largely depend on the type, amount, and length of time exposed to the drug, symptoms can include:

• Blotchy skin coloring
• Diarrhea
• Excessive crying
• High-pitched crying
• Sucking excessively
• Fever
• Hyperactivity
• Irritability
• Seizures
• Trembling
• Rapid breathing
• Sweating
• Vomiting
• Slow weight gain
• Sleep issues
• Poor eating


Like the signs and symptoms of neonatal abstinence syndrome, treatment of the condition depends on the type of drug the baby has been exposed to while in the womb. Other considerations for treatment also may include the overall health of the baby at birth as well as whether or not the baby was born at full-term.

Source: National Institute of Health