Rising Epidemic of Opioid Addicted Babies

Kennedi Jackson | Staff Writer

 

The number of opium-addicted babies continues to rise, with the rate of children being born into addiction quadrupling over the past 15 years. Babies with desperate, high-pitched wails and shaking bodies reside in hospitals all over the U.S.

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome is the condition of symptoms babies go through when they are exposed to drugs in the womb. When a birthing mother has suffered from abuse of drugs and has a baby, the newborn’s nervous system can trigger symptoms of withdrawal. Up to 94 percent of babies exposed to opioids end up experiencing withdrawal.

Freshman Skylar Buck spends a lot of time around young children, and the thought of this happening across the nation is unsettling to her.

“Children are meant to be cared for and loved. If a parent can’t control themselves then they shouldn’t risk bringing a baby into the world who will only suffer because of them.”

The Center for Disease Control estimates that around six out of 1,000 babies are born with neonatal abstinence syndrome. The increasing amount of children being affected is also damaging to the pocket. Treating one child can cost up to $60,000.

Lawsuits against opioid manufactures, drug dealers, and even pain clinics are one of the steps being taken to try and limit the amount of prescription opioids being placed on the market. Large manufacturers have been charged with fines and paid settlements over the years to avoid scandal with releasing of these drugs, but no one is willing to take responsibility for the ongoing crisis.

According to National Geographic research, there are things being done to more effectively to treat the addiction. Researchers are straying away from the traditional hospital and medication approach and attempting to create a strong bond between mothers and the babies.

Sophomore nursing major Key agrees with researchers and said “Medication may not always be the best remedy, sometimes all a baby needs is proper attention.” According to National Geographic, 86 percent of babies with the syndrome used to rely on medication, whereas now only about 30 percent are. Forming this bond has been proven to combat some of the negative effects that can be controlled, such as behavioral issues. Children with NAS are considered more likely to end up in the foster care system, and although there is not clear research done on the effects of this disease on the brain, there is still the possibilities of cognitive and behavioral problems. “There’s still a lot of work to be done”, says Key, “but hopefully something can be done to help prevent crises like this in the future.”

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