Alarm at rise in babies born addicted to prescription painkillers

Alarm at rise in babies born addicted to prescription painkillers taken by their mothers during pregnancy

By Daily Mail Reporter

Last updated at 7:52 AM on 29th July 2011

Health officials are becoming increasingly alarmed at the rise in the number of babies born hooked on pills that their mothers took while pregnant.

According to the White House Office on Drug Control Policy, prescription drug abuse is the nation's fastest-growing drug problem.

But while prescription drug overdose deaths have risen dramatically, it's the births that are now causing concern.

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Recovering addict: Jessica is now clean, but she's worried about the effects of the pills on two-month-old baby Casey

Recovering addict: Jessica is now clean, but she's worried about the effects of the pills on two-month-old baby Casey

Al Lamberti, the Sheriff of Broward County, Florida, said: 'We saw the number of crack babies that died, and this is just another version of that.'

'We all need to be concerned.'

According to state health records, 635 babies were born addicted to prescription drugs in the first half of 2010 in Florida alone.

Mary Osuch, the head nurse at Broward General Medical Center's neonatal intensive care unit, said: 'The babies go through withdrawal symptoms.

'They're crampy, miserable. They sweat. They can have rapid breathing.

'Sometimes, they can even have seizures.'

Marsha Currant, who runs the Susan B. Anthony Recovery Center near Fort Lauderdale, says prescription drug addiction overtook crack in 2009 as the main problem afflicting the pregnant women who are treated there.

A place to turn to: A recovery centre in Florida offers hope for mothers fearful their babies will be taken away from them

A place to turn to: A recovery centre in Florida offers hope for mothers fearful their babies will be taken away from them

She started keeping track of drug trends in 1995, CNN reports.

'In the very beginning, it was really 100 per cent crack cocaine,' Mrs Currant said.

'We see a lot more prescription drugs now.'

Mrs Currant added that new mothers who are hooked on prescription drugs are often reluctant to seek help for fear the authorities will take their babies from them.

She said: 'We wanted to have a place where women didn't have to chose between getting treatment and having their children go into foster care.'

Compounding the problem, women who are addicted to prescription drugs and find themselves pregnant cannot safely go off the drugs without medical supervision.

The littlest victims: Addicted babies often sweat and have rapid breathing, experts say

The littlest victims: Addicted babies often sweat and have rapid breathing, experts say

They need to be weaned off slowly, or the baby will go into withdrawal in the womb.

At the Susan B. Anthony Centre, one mother who became hooked on prescription drugs after her husband died says she felt her baby suffering while she was getting clean.

'I know that I'm going through stuff getting off the pills. So what's she going through?

'She can't talk. She's just a baby,' Jessica said.

Thanks to the centre, Jessica was weaned off oxycodone before her baby, Casey, was born.

But she fears the long-term effects of her drug abuse on her daughter, who has been suffering from respiratory problems.

'I want to make sure that she doesn't hurt anymore,' Jessica said.

'She doesn't deserve that, because she's a princess.'

Jessica graduated from the center's recovery programme last week.


 

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Comment by Nikki on July 29, 2011 at 11:20pm
Poor babies!  What a terrible way to start life.  I know a couple who adopted a crack baby as an infant (fortunately for him).  He's a good kid but has always need special ed classes.
Comment by truth on July 29, 2011 at 3:47pm
Untied States of Soma

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