Death of Opioid Addicted Baby Results in Sentencing of Both Mother and Father
In 2017 a nine-day old opioid addicted baby died, and his mother has been convicted of manslaughter and child abuse. She will spend the next 30 years in prison for abusing heroin during her pregnancy and the night before the baby died. The baby’s father will spend 15 years in prison for not getting medical care for his son. Three lives have been destroyed because heroin was more important than anything else. In just nine years, babies born addicted to drugs grew almost five-fold. Opioids are the primary drug responsible for the deadly increase.
Some states are hit very hard with the opioid addicted baby crisis. In rural Kentucky there are 15 addicted babies out of every 1,000 births. Babies are often sent by ambulance to hospitals in the cities, which can be hours away. The situation is dangerous as hospital nursery beds needed by critically ill babies are filled with many more than a single opioid addicted baby. Many city hospitals are expanding their neonatal intensive care units in an attempt to safely handle the vast number of opioid addicted arriving from the rural areas of their state.
Opioid Withdrawal In Infants
In the year 2013 alone, it is estimated 24,000 babies were born addicted to opioids, and the number continues to grow as the crisis worsens. More than three babies are born addicted to drugs every hour of the day. Opioid withdrawal in infants is so difficult for the baby. Symptoms generally begin within 24 to 72 hours after birth and can last up to five days. Newborn infants who should be enjoying closeness to their mothers are struggling with tremors, breathing difficulties, sweating, fever, inability to eat, and loud screaming. Monitoring is constant during opioid withdrawal in infants, and an assessment tool is used to determine the severity of the symptoms.
Many infants are subjected to doses of another opioid such as morphine or methadone in order to slowly wean them from the drugs they inherited from their mothers. During this time of opioid withdrawal in infants, many are without close contact with their mothers. Research is being conducted to find methods of treating these infants with alternative methods to reduce the amount opioid medications presently needed.
Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome
Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) is the designation applied to the problems a newborn incurs when he or she was exposed to opioid drugs in the mother’s womb. Heroin, codeine, oxycodone, methadone, and buprenorphine pass through the placenta connecting the baby to its mother, and the baby also becomes dependent on the drug. Once the baby is born and no longer receiving the drug from its mother, he or she will experience withdrawal symptoms as the drug is removed from the infant’s system.
A study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that many babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome have difficulty keeping up with the rest of their class when they reached school age. These children frequently need special education services and are forty-four percent more likely to experience developmental delays and speech or language impairment.
If you or a woman you know uses opioids and has unprotected sex, it’s time to be proactive and do something good for your future children. WhiteSands Addiction Treatment Centers can help you get rid of your addiction and start you on a healthier journey for the day you want to have a baby. In addition to detox, you’ll receive therapy to learn a healthy lifestyle including exercise and good nutrition. Contact WhiteSands today so your baby won’t be born addicted to opioids.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.