HUNTINGTON, WV (WTVM) - A baby's birth is supposed to be a celebration of life, but children born suffering withdrawals from prescription pills enter the world with terrible symptoms that are costly to treat.
In a video released by Cabell Huntington Hospital in Huntington, WV in 2015, a baby is shown suffering with neonatal abstinence syndrome, or NAS, which is a number of symptoms caused from exposure to addictive drugs.
"Drugs such as opiates/narcotics, cocaine, amphetamines, barbiturates and benzodiazepines pass through the placenta to the baby during pregnancy and the baby becomes addicted, along with the mother," Shawn Jordan, production and media relations manager of Cabell Huntington Hospital said.
Symptoms of NAS include:
- Blotchy skin coloring (mottling)
- Slow weight gain
- Increased muscle tone
- Excessive or high-pitched crying
- Hyperactive reflexes
- Poor feeding
- Rapid breathing
- Sleep problems
- Stuffy nose, sneezing
According to Reuters, more than 130,000 babies born in the United States between 2004 and 2014 were born addicted to opioid.
The Centers for Disease Control said that one in seven babies born in the U.S. was born with NAS in 2013. A study published by Vanderbilt University in 2012 showed that the annual medical costs to care for NAS babies totaled $1.5 billion in 2012.
Federal laws have increased their ability to protect babies addicted to opioid in utero.
In November 2015, President Barack Obama signed into law the Protecting Our Babies Act. The law provides education for mothers and creates funding for treatment with affected babies.
"The Protecting Our Infants Act will also identify the gaps in current research related to NAS and the long-term consequences of in-utero drug exposures," information for March of Dimes said.
The law also puts a stronger hold on state Departments of Health and Human Services to begin building case files for babies who are born addicted to drugs and begin better data collection of areas where the issues are developing.
NAS is treatable, depending of the severity of the child's addiction and the mother's usage of drugs. Treatments are up to the pediatrician and the parent.