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Addicted moms’ newborns face uphill battle in NKY

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Since 2004 Buckeye State has experienced 750 percent increase in number of babies born to drug-addicted moms

COVINGTON, Ky. —Efforts continue to help newborns who were exposed to potentially deadly street drugs while they’re in the womb, but a lack of resources is complicating matters.

According to WLWT News 5 investigative reporter Todd Dykes, the number of babies exposed to some kind of opioid in utero is jaw-dropping.

 

Ohio’s Department of Health said since 2004 the Buckeye State has experienced a 750 percent increase in babies born to drug-addicted moms. The numbers are just as sobering in Northern Kentucky.

“We could grow two-fold overnight. The demand is there,” Jim Beiting said, the CEO of Transitions, Inc., a treatment provider which operates the Healthy Newborns House in Covington.

“Women, after they give birth, can stay here for up to four months. And this is a safe, supportive environment for women in recovery that have just had their baby,” Beiting said.

Inside the nondescript home are 10 beds for new mothers who used to be hooked on drugs like heroin.

“That’s not enough (beds). We need more,” Beiting said. “We’re always full. We try to manage that the best we can. We don’t like waiting lists, that’s for sure.”

While more and more people are aware of the heroin problem in Boone, Campbell and Kenton counties, the task of fighting back is a tall order since treatment beds are in short supply.

But the fight does continue, especially in the neonatal intensive care unit at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Edgewood, KY.

“They’re fussy. They’re hard to console,” Tracy Burch, St. Elizabeth’s neonatal nurse manager, said. She’s describing a baby born with what’s now being called neonatal opioid withdrawal Syndrome (also called Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome).

“People do not really understand what Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome really is and what that really means, ambien generic, then they understand exactly what we’re talking about,” Burch said.

Burch and Dr. Ward Rice, who oversees St. Elizabeth Hospital’s NICU, see countless babies impacted by drugs.

In 2011, St. Elizabeth treated 28 babies born with neonatal opioid withdrawal.
“We’re having to give them medication routinely to help control their withdrawn symptoms,” Burch said.

The number is projected to grow to at least 134 babies this year, which is a jump of 379 percent.

“The thing about heroin use and opiate use it transcends the socioeconomic spectrum,” Dr. Rice said.

One of the keys to recovery is to help new mothers and their baby find a safe place to move forward.

“We can use more treatment beds,” Rice said. “If we had more treatment beds that would be awesome.”

“There’s not always great places for the mom and the baby to go together because that’s truly what we need,” Burch said.

Kim Moser, the head of a new organization, called the Northern Kentucky Office of Drug Control, said the process of helping babies born to addicted moms is not as seamless as it is on the Ohio side of the Ohio river in Hamilton County.

She also says follow up with families impacted by drug use is not as strong as it should be, and she notes Northern Kentucky’s foster system is overwhelmed.

Moser is gathering data in order to determine the best way to allocate resources to help families affected by addiction.

Data aside, Burch stresses that moms whose babies experience neonatal opioid withdrawal generally want what’s best for their child.

“These moms love their babies. I think there is some stigma out there, that these moms must not care about their babies, but that is absolutely not true. In most cases, they truly love their babies. They themselves are dealing with a disease process. So what we want to try and do is to create an environment where we can keep the mom and baby together and we can continue mom on her treatment path.”

For more information on the Healthy Newborns Home, click here.

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