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The number of drug addicted newborns in the U.S keeps rising. Now in KY, the number of newborn babies addicted to drugs has increased from 29 in 2000 to 730 last year. “According to a May study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the rate of newborns suffering withdrawal in the United States rose from 1.2 hospitalizations per 1,000 hospital births in 2000 to 3.4 per 1,000 in 2009”.

The prescription pill epidemic is to blame for these newborn babies in Kentucky being addicted to drugs . Many mothers are addicted to powerful narcotics like Vicodin or Oxycodone before their pregnancy and continue using while pregnant. To reduce the risk of seizers or death, newborns are usually treated with methadone (or flavored morphine) to wean them off the drugs. More than half of the babies being treated at the University of Louisville’s neonatal intensive care unit are suffering from drug withdrawal.

What are the symptoms of babies born addicted to drugs?

Newborns that are born addicted to drugs:

  • cry constantly
  • have diarrhea
  • vomit more than usual
  • experience low-grade fevers
  • Sweat
  • Have seizures
  • Are sensitive to noise and light

What is the cost of drug addicted babies?

A drug addicted baby can cost over $53,000 just from their extended stay (on average 16.4 days) at the hospital for withdrawal treatments. A team of researchers writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association in May found that overall health care costs for addicted newborns increased from $190 million in 2000 to $720 million in 2009. Many hospitals are now including withdrawal wings in their neonatal care units to accommodate this crisis.

What happens when the baby goes home?

Children who are born addicted to drugs have a long road ahead of them. They have been physically weaned off the substance in the hospital but once home their bodies are still craving the substance. They’ve have been through so much physical trauma within the first few days of their lives that it can show up as behavioral problems such as ADHD later on. If a drug addicted baby is weaned off of drugs then given back to its addicted mother, the cycle could very well continue – especially if the mother breast feeds the infant. This is a serious problem and the impact of prescription drug abuse is seeping deeper and deeper into society.

How can I get help?

Substance abuse programs exist, the stigmas just need to cease from existing so people can feel more open to receiving treatment. We have to help our fellow neighbors and ourselves in this fight against prescription drug abuse. Pregnant women can kick the habit and save their babies from drug addiction. There aren’t many drug rehabs in Kentucky but there are always options available to those who need treatment. If you or someone you know needs substance abuse treatment give us a call 24/7 at 800-951-6135.




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