PHILADELPHIA (CBS)—There is an alarming trend in the fight against drug abuse hitting our area and it’s affecting the youngest among us.
When you think of those addicted to opioids, you may not think of our society’s most vulnerable.
But a new report shows one in 50 Pennsylvanians will be born addicted to opioids.
“We’ve seen this coming. We’ve seen a huge increase in the numbers of withdrawing babies,” said Dr. Jay Greenspan, chair of pediatrics at the Nemours Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children.
Greenspan says he’s not surprised there has been a 250% increase in neonatal stays since 2000 due to opioid addiction.
“We’ve always seen it at places like Jefferson in Center City Philadelphia. Now we’re seeing it in the suburbs. Throughout the state and throughout the country,” said Greenspan. “They all show signs you can imagine: jitteryness, hyper activity inability to eat, they may even have a seizure.”
For one woman’s daughter, the addiction started in high school.
“She would be off and on and off and on,” says the woman.
The struggle tore apart her family.
“Once I just took her in the and I left her in the middle of the Northeast and I said, ‘Just go wherever you want. I don’t want to see you again.’ I gave up.”
But it wasn’t until her daughter became pregnant that she sought out treatment.
“What we do is we put them back on the opioid and slowly wean them off. It takes 2 to 4 weeks to do that,” said Greenspan.
That process is very costly and time consuming but fortunately won’t lead to permanent damage.
“The good news is that once they get through this they can be totally normal. They can be totally normal for the rest of their life. We don’t think the opioids cause permanent brain injury,” Greenspan said.
Just last year, the same report says these extended hospital stays for infant treatment cost insurance providers more than $20 million.