LocalSYR

Health Department: Onondaga County has the highest rate of drug addicted infants in NYS

Doctors say the US has seen an incredible increase of infants born with addictions – with one infant born in the United States exhibiting the symptoms of drug withdrawal.
Syracuse (WSYR-TV) – Doctors say the US has seen an incredible increase of infants born with addictions – with one infant born in the United States exhibiting the symptoms of drug withdrawal.

State Department of Health statistics show Onondaga County has the highest rate of newborns with drug-related problems in New York State.

The sickest newborns are cared for at Crouse’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit – including babies who are born hooked on drugs because their mom used while she was pregnant.

"Any agent that a mother takes, that crosses the brain barrier in the baby - forms a nest in the brain and then is no longer there when they are born - can give the babies withdrawal symptoms,” said Dr. Michelle Bode.

It’s called Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome.

The drugs vary from illegal narcotics – like heroin – to prescription painkillers.

The babies’ symptoms can start immediately or take days to set in.

“They get tense, the tenseness affects their mouth, they can't eat - or the opposite, they are vomiting, they have diarrhea they are shaking so bad it can lead to seizures. They have a cry – that's not a, I'm a baby cry, it's a shrill,” Bode said.

The State Health Department says that for every 1,000 babies born in Onondaga County, 26 have drug-related problems – which is five times the national rate, according to state officials.

Babies who need to be weaned off of a drug once they are born spend approximately a month in the neonatal ICU at Crouse.

Babies are given liquid morphine to take the edge off – and are closely monitored as they recover.

“It’s heart wrenching for the staff, it’s eye opening for many parents and family members and it’s extremely eye opening for those who don't know it even occurs,” said Monika Taylor of Crouse’s Methadone Treatment Program.

Local health officials have rolled out a campaign to educate – offering help and advice to drug-addicted moms.

“Going cold turkey and stopping can put the mother in withdrawal, which can then put the baby in withdrawal in the womb with potential consequences that we don't even know about - including fetal death,” Taylor said.

But there are options – like Crouse’s Methadone Clinic – which help curb addiction.

“In 2013, we saw an increase in pregnant women seeking treatment with methadone - we saw 60 women seeking treatment, that was twice the number than the previous year,” said Taylor.

Babies can also withdraw from methadone after they are born.

Doctors say there is no way to protect whether a baby will suffer.

Doctors say the rate in Onondaga County could be high because health officials are very aware of it and are pro-active in trying to identify it.

Bode says there is no universal policy among health officials for screening for the syndrome.

Page: [[$index + 1]]