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Monday, November 7, 2011

Babies Born Addicted



According to the Ohio Hospital Association, 
Drug Withdrawal Syndrome in newborn babies 
continues to rise statewide.

There were 413 cases in 2007 and 1,116 in 2010.

Newborns with Drug Withdrawal Syndrome -- it's bad, and getting worse. In some hospitals, 15 to 20 percent of newborns need treatment for withdrawal.

Across the country, almost 12,000 babies are born each year with newborn withdrawal syndrome, a rate that more than doubled from 2003 to 2008. 

Florida, which has emerged as the epicenter of the problem, witnessed some 1,300 babies treated for withdrawal  in 2010, a 30 percent increase from the previous year and four times the number just five years ago, according to Agency for Health Care Administration records. The number of mothers treated for pregnancy complications related to drug dependence almost doubled -- from 240 to 463 -- over the same five-year period. (Richard Martin, "Babies Born Addicted To Prescription Drugs On the Rise," The St. Petersburg Times, May 14 2011)

And while this epidemic in Florida is shocking, the problem appears to be even worse in Ohio, according to the Huffington Post:

“Nearly one in 10 babies were born addicted to drugs 
last year in southern Ohio’s Scioto County.” 

(Andrew Welsh-Huggins, "Extreme Pill Addiction Problem in Ohio: 1 in 10 Babies Born Addicted to Drugs," The Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com, December 22 2010)

It’s tough to say just how many babies in Ohio are born addicted to prescription drugs each year. Hospitals are not required to report them to the state. Some hospitals track the numbers, others don’t.

In most cases these babies are born dependent on opiates – especially prescription drugs. In some cases the drugs in question may be methamphetamines or cocaine, and in other cases severe addicts give birth to babies that are dependent on more than one substance.

Significant Threats to the Substance Dependent Baby

 1. Withdrawal Symptoms

“Babies undergo a full-blown narcotic withdrawal,” says Dr. Jonathan Wispe, a neo-natologist at Columbus Children’s Hospital who has been taking care of infants for 30 years. (Mandie Trimble, "Opiate-Addicted Infants On Rise In Ohio," WOSU wosu.org/news, August 8 2011)

Dependent babies often must spend the first few weeks of their lives in neonatal intensive care units, where they are weaned off drugs. Treatment for withdrawal can be a very painful process lasting up to 30 days; it often includes vomiting, diarrhea, feeding problems, tremors, and muscle stiffness.

Treatment can include powerful drugs in tiny doses (morphine, methadone, phenobarbital or clonidine) to pave their withdrawals or simpler remedies, such as volunteers and nurses rocking and cradling the babies in darkened, padded rooms to ease their abnormal sensitivity to noise and light.

An article by the Partnership at Drugfree.ORG quoted Head Nurse Mary Osuch of Broward General Medical Center’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit as saying; “[the babies] go through withdrawal symptoms; they’re crampy, miserable. They sweat. They can have rapid breathing. Sometimes, they can even have seizures.” Some symptoms can last as long as four to six months.

2. Serious Health Concerns

A. Dependent babies generally have a smaller head circumference.

B. Dependent babies generally have a lower birth weight.

C. Dependent babies generally have overall slower development.

D. Dependent babies born to opiate-addicted mothers are at higher risk for apnea (stopping breathing) and SIDS.

E. Dependent babies born to opiate-addicted mothers (taken just before or early in pregnancy) show a moderate increase in risks of birth defects, including congenital heart problems. (Centers for Disease Control study, April 2011)

F. Substance-dependent children are more likely to continue to have cognitive and learning disorders and difficulty adjusting socially later in life.

G. Because these children are born to an addicted mother, the chances for abuse and neglect are higher, which can lead to the child eventually turning to drugs on their own as a coping mechanism.

H. Toddlers of opiate-addicted mothers were found to be highly energetic, talkative, and easily distracted, with brief attention spans. Their goal-directedness was brief.

I. Some studies suggested that these toddlers had immature object manipulation, especially with regard to fine motor skills.

J. Speech, perceptual disturbances, and sleep disturbances were also noted in toddlers.

Read this article from The Miami Heraldhttp://www.miamiherald.com/2011/05/21/2228407/born-addicted.html

 A Gift From God -- A Beautiful, Healthy Baby
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