Florida Sees Dramatic Surge in Addicted Babies

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The most innocent victims of the opioid epidemic are sometimes the hardest hit. There is an alarming increase in the number of Florida babies born to addicted mothers. Sadly, when mother is addicted, baby often is, too.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there was a “five-fold increase” in the number of American babies born with NAS or Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome between 2000 and 2012. NAS is a painful withdrawal syndrome found in babies whose mothers abused certain drugs during pregnancy.

In Florida, the statistics are even more disturbing, with the number of addicted babies increasing ten-fold. According to High Times, over 4,000 Florida newborns suffered from NAS last year. In 2006, the number was 438.  These numbers follow the same path as the overall Florida opioid crisis, with thousands more unintended victims.

Neonatal Opioid Withdrawals Cause Severe, Painful Symptoms

Opioid withdrawals are painful and difficult for anyone who is trying to get clean. For newborns, withdrawal is excruciating. Dr. Cherie Foster, St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital Medical Director and Neonatologist, tells THVII  that babies born with NAS are irritable, they do not feed as well as healthy babies, and they have a high-pitched cry. “They are very sick,” she explains.

Deanna and Bill DeCicco, who adopted a baby with NAS four years ago, tell THVII that the detox process for their son made him inconsolable. They explained that babies in withdrawals scream and suffer vomiting and diarrhea. “It’s a scream like no other scream,” they said.

For each drug-dependent newborn a hospital treats, the costs hover in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Prevention is much better than treatment after NAS is already an issue.

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Babies with NAS may also suffer from jaundice, which neonatal care units can treat with light therapy.

Florida Devotes Millions to Battling the Opioid Epidemic 

The Florida Department of Children and Families once had a special unit for drug-dependent newborns, but the program no longer exists. Florida Governor Rick Scott is taking a different approach to preventing NAS in babies now, says THVII. “The best solution,” Scott said, “is to stop the addiction.” Millions in funding could help more people gain access to the treatment they need.

Currently, DCF intervenes with at-risk families to help protect newborn babies and older children from damaging exposure to a parent with a substance abuse problem. They offer support and education, but this approach also looks at addiction after a baby has been born into it.

Orlando drug rehab can help pregnant mothers and women who may become pregnant go through opioid detox safely, minimizing withdrawal symptoms for the mother and the likelihood of NAS for the baby. The sooner that happens, the better. What is more, rehab can help mothers addicted to any substance. For example, alcohol addiction causes Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, but rehab provides a safe, caring environment to get healthy and stay that way.

Being addicted to opioids or any other substance is difficult enough for an adult to handle. For a newborn baby, addiction transforms the first minutes, days, and weeks into a painful, frightening experience. For some babies, the effects of their mother’s addiction last much longer, sometimes even for life.

Orlando drug rehab can help pregnant women protect their unborn babies from NAS and the long-term effects of being born addicted. If you or any of your loved ones are suffering from addiction, contact us to learn about healthy treatment options.