I call Carole immediately after meeting with Anita. “I don’t know if Ruth took Dilantin while she was pregnant but I’ll certainly ask!”
Email Message from Carole: I spoke with Ruth about taking anticonvulsant meds during her pregnancy with Paige. Ruth says she didn’t take any, but she did ask, in a somewhat irritated manner, why no one is looking at Klonopin as a possible cause for Paige’s withdrawal symptoms…
Klonopin wasn’t examined for Paige’s withdrawal symptoms and subsequent challenges because it wasn’t in Ruth’s medical records; clonidine was listed instead! Curious and determined to tease out Paige’s life in utero, I do research.
Clonidine is generally used to treat hypertension. It is also used to treat ADHD, which Ruth claims she has; opiate withdrawal, which is one of Ruth’s addictions; and migraines, which Ruth suffers from on a regular basis.
When I contemplate those things, it’s not unrealistic for Ruth to take clonidine even though she doesn’t have hypertension. Clonidine’s side effects on an unborn baby aren’t known. Ruth didn’t receive prenatal care so it’s unclear if Ruth took Klonopin and clonidine, or if the clonidine was an error in the medical records.
Klonopin, known as clonazepam in its generic form, belongs to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines. It’s generally used as an anticonvulsant, but also prescribed for anxiety. Furthermore, Klonopin interacts with alcohol, barbiturates and narcotics, all of which Ruth admitted she used at some point in her pregnancy. Benzodiazepines are highly addictive and severe withdrawal symptoms occur if abruptly discontinued. Withdrawal symptoms include tremors, seizures, muscle cramps, vomiting and/or sweating. Benzodiazepines can be harmful to an unborn baby. They are only prescribed during pregnancy as a last resort.
Infants who suffer Klonopin withdrawal experience all the symptoms Paige had at birth, and continues to have* – hypertonia (stiffness), hyper-reflexia (excessive reflexes), restlessness, irritability, abnormal sleep patterns, inconsolable crying, tremors or jerking of the extremities (arms and legs), poor feeding and poor weight gain.
I’m furious. “Why did the doctors keep prescribing this for her while she was pregnant?”
“Ruth is an excellent liar,” Carole reminds me. “She’ll convince doctors to give her just a pills until her prescriptions get refilled. She didn’t get prenatal care so I doubt her doctor even knew she was pregnant.”
* Shooting Up In Utero was a post I wrote last year on Written Reflections. It contains further details about Paige’s drug withdrawal.