More Babies Born Dependent to Drugs Increase Every Year

New statistics show that more babies are born addicted to drugs than ever before.  In fact nearly five times over the span of a decade, according to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Services Administration. It’s a huge problem nationwide and even here in East Alabama.

“It’s one of those things that we used to see rarely,”said EAMC Mother/Baby Unit Manager Glenda Gooden.

Almost every week, health care givers at East Alabama Medical Center see babies born here who test positive for drugs.

“No newborn to take home is an easy task. But, highly irritable babies that require constant monitoring, there are times they are inconsolable and that’s a challenge for us,” said Gooden.

Alabama tops the list of states seeing a dramatic rise in the number of infants born with a drug dependency.

“Of course with the national opioid epidemic, pediatricians everywhere are expecting that number to continue to increase,” said Dr. Brooke Haynes, East Alabama Medical Center Pediatrician.

The most common drugs they see babies addicted to at EAMC: marijuana and prescription drugs.

“It’s a problem for us,” said Gooden.

With 40 years of caring for kids, nurse Gooden has seen it all. Drug dependency so devastating, in more ways than one.

“It’s a miserable way to be withdrawing from drugs. Little babies cannot necessarily tell us their symptoms, so we just judge our treatments on what they are showing us clinically,” said Gooden.

Even after weeks of intensive care the affects and the fight for health is not over.

“As pediatricians we are very concerned that the mother child bond isn’t as strong as it can be and when the baby is hospitalized for a long period of time, it can disrupt that,” said Dr. Haynes.

An unfortunate twist in treatment available for mothers means a woman can get help for addiction after she gives birth, but not as easily while she’s pregnant. That’s something the folks here who care for the littlest victims hope will change.

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