As the abuse of prescription drugs continues to reach epidemic proportions, there are more and more babies being born who are addicted and immediately suffer from withdrawal. Officials in Ohio are starting a pilot program in their state to help babies who are born addicted to these drugs, as well as their mothers.
In several states, including Ohio, the number of deaths attributed to overdosing is now the number one reason for accidental deaths. Along with this increase comes the rise in babies who are born with an addiction. From 2004 to 2011 the number of babies born with an addiction has increased six-fold. These babies are suffering, through no fault of their own.
Ohio has taken several steps in recent years to combat this problem head on. This includes closing some clinics where painkillers were not properly being prescribed and changing the guidelines for doctors who are working in emergency rooms.
Their recently announced pilot program is another dramatic step forward in this battle.
In this program, 200 mothers and their babies would receive counseling and treatment when the babies are born with an addiction to opioids (like heroin) or prescription painkillers. This treatment would happen immediately for the new baby.
Since these newborns are typically underweight, the simple symptoms of nausea and dehydration can very quickly become life-threatening issues. In addition to the life-threatening nature of these symptoms, they require a longer hospitalization stay.
The basis for the program is that by providing this type of specialized assistance, it will reduce the length of the hospital stay, and that will reduce costs for the state. This is because a large number of these births occur when the mother is on Medicaid.
Studies have shown that treating babies for withdrawal can reduce the length of their hospital stay by 30%.
Since the mothers are in treatment as well, the doctors and nurses handling the newborn are aware of the specific problem faced by the newborn. This knowledge alone cuts down the length of the hospital stay because they know exactly how to treat the baby.
The pilot program will be ready to start helping new mothers and their babies born with addictions by the beginning of 2014.