By: ATSI Admin
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Drastic, Tragic Increase In Drug-Dependent Babies
Imagine being addicted to a substance without ever even using it, and never having a say in the matter. Tragically, so many innocent victims of drug abuse are babies of addicted mothers, born addicted to the drugs themselves.
Most women know that using drugs or drinking alcohol while pregnant has effects on an unborn child, like developmental delays, birth defects or mental health problems. However, knowing the risks may not be enough to make expectant mothers quit using before or during pregnancy—and without the right kind of help, many of these moms fail to get sober. The result is not only an addicted mother, but an addicted newborn.
According to a 2012 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, hospitalizations for drug-dependent babies rose 330 percent from 2000 to 2009. During these years, Kentucky alone saw a rise in hospitalizations of more than 1,400 percent.
There are many reasons for the drastic increase in drug-dependent babies. More hospitals are diagnosing and reporting the problem, but the main reason stems from the simple fact that more mothers are using drugs. With the introduction of prescription painkillers, many mothers who may otherwise never abuse drugs become addicted to powerful substances, like OxyContin. Women commonly abuse painkillers to numb physical or emotional pain, or manage stress and anxiety.
These days, prescription users are switching to heroin, which can be cheaper and easier to obtain. Methamphetamine and club drugs, such as MDMA, are also on the rise.
The Devastating Effects of NAS
Experts have revealed that up to 90 percent of drug-exposed infants exhibit Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), which is a group of varying problems, including:
- Born prematurely, with low birth weight
- Inconsolable when exhibiting symptoms of pain
- Trouble feeding
- Sensitive to light and noise
- Respiratory problems
Hospital workers often feel helpless when caring for NAS babies, as there is not much they can do to help ease the symptoms. Some babies require strong medications, like morphine. Other drugs may be used to combat the effects of the drugs in their systems and to help wean off the drugs.
In order to prevent more babies from being born addicted, it is imperative that we find ways to help at-risk mothers. There are programs that can effectively help mothers or moms-to-be achieve sobriety and turn their lives around before it’s too late.