According to the NKY Heroin Impact and Response team, which has been studying the heroin problem for more than a year, Kentucky newborns treated for drug withdrawal doubled from 2011-2012, from 730 to more than 1,400.
The rate of drug-exposed infants per 1,000 births increased three-fold from 2009 to 2012 at seven Southwest Ohio hospitals participating in the Perinatal Institute Neonatal Abstinence Program:
- Bethesda North Hospital
- Good Samaritan Hospital
- Fort Hamilton Hospital
- Mercy Fairfield Hospital
- Mercy Anderson Hospital
- Christ Hospital
- University of Cincinnati Medical Center
In Northern Kentucky, St. Elizabeth Healthcare saw a greater-than-double increase. The hospital’s report to the leadership team of the NKY Heroin Impact and Response coalition shows St. E Edgewood treated 26 infants born with drug withdrawal syndrome in 2011 and 63 infants in 2012.
Dr. Catherine DeFoor, pediatrician with St. Elizabeth Pediatrics in Florence and chief of pediatrics for St. Elizabeth hospitals, said she sees one or two babies a week, on average, with addiction symptoms.
“Some weeks are worse,” she told nyk.com. “One week we had five.”
The babies display all of the withdrawal symptoms of any addict, said DeFoor.
“They’re jittery, crying, sneezing, irritable,” and, rarely, she said, “they can have seizures.”
The babies are kept in the hospital even if they do not immediately show symptoms of withdrawal, and monitored for 48 to 72 hours.
If withdrawal is occurring, DeFoor said, the infants are given methadone to ease the withdrawal symptoms and then gradually weaned off.