Addicted Babies Can’t Take Drug Class

by Mike Miller February 28, 2012

To what do you attribute to the recent rash of drug-addicted babies? From coast-to-coast hospitals are finding babies born already addicted to drugs.

I can tell you one thing – it is not all the hormones they are putting into our food. I believe it is prescription medication.

The neonatal unit isn't supposed to be a drug rehab ward.

But the drugs their mothers took are causing more newborns in the Sacramento, California area to spend their first days of life suffering through the pains of withdrawal.

From 2008 to 2010 submitted by hospitals to the state, the number of infants suffering withdrawal in the four-county area has doubled since the start of the decade.

Doctors diagnosed 156 local newborns with neonatal withdrawal syndrome from 2008 to 2010.

The syndrome generally occurs when mothers use drugs, particularly opiate painkillers, for an extended period during pregnancy. Its symptoms are similar to what addicts often experience when stopping a drug: sweating, fever, restlessness, poor appetite, vomiting and tremors.

Poor little babes, this is no way to enter a cold world.

While the syndrome is more prevalent, it is still rare, affecting one of every 450 local births in 2010.

More babies – about one of every 80 born in the region – are affected in some way by maternal drug use but do not suffer withdrawal symptoms. That figure, which experts say underestimates the problem, has grown at a moderate pace for years, and doctors have reported a shift from cocaine toward narcotics.

What is the culprit? Clinicians blame the rise in newborn drug withdrawal on increased use – and abuse – of prescription painkillers.

Nationally, reports of neonatal withdrawal syndrome increased from 7,500 to 12,000 from 1995 to 2008, or seven times faster than the growth in total births. The report said that "an indeterminate part" of the rise is due to "more liberal use of prescription opiates."

Pregnant mothers often realize that abusing drugs could harm their infants, but cannot kick the habit. Thirty-four-year-old Jennifer Hohnholz of Rancho Cordova said she smoked crack cocaine in 2009 while pregnant with her third child.

Hohnholz's child was born healthy but tested positive for drugs. The child was adopted and Hohnholz, who is now clean, hasn't seen her since.

Hohnholz, the former addict, went through a drug treatment program and got clean. She recently completed a certificate in office administration, and is looking for work.

She gave birth to a healthy son, Jaden, 17 months ago.

Drug classes and treatment do work. Regardless of your situation or what drug you are addicted to drug education is crucial to healthy babies and a productive society.


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