Regional Hospital Reports Increase In Births Of Drug-Addicted Babies

By
Sara Vallone

Dateline
Updated Fri, May 4, 2012 2:48 pm

The number of babies born to drug-addicted mothers is growing at an alarming rate, according to one Southeast Ohio hospital. 

Jackie Rebman, the director of Adena Health System's Women and Children's Center, calls it "an epidemic."
 
Over the past seven months, 47 babies born in the center have tested positive for opiates, making up more than 6.5 percent of the hospital's births.
 
Rebman says she believes the economy may play a role in the the number of babies being born with opiate addictions. 
 
"You have to wonder if the economy plays some rule in the southern Ohio issue. There has been lots of lost jobs, and I know that has been everywhere but it seems like it really impacted the southern Ohio region. People get depressed, down on their luck and often turn to things that are not productive, such as drugs," said Rebman.
 
Opiates are a type of narcotic drug that acts as a depressant in a person's central nervous system.
 
Rebman says upon delivery, a mother is given a drug screening, and if shown positive for drugs, the baby will be tested after birth.
 
Babies born with an addiction are often jittery, difficult to feed, and very irritable after birth and often grow up with behavioral issues, learning disabilities or possibly hearing loss, says Rebman.
 
After the baby is born, the medical center will report the finding to children services.
 
"After the screen comes back positive, we, health care professionals being mandated reporters, notify the counties children services system in the county the baby would be living in with parents and then our involvment after that is complete. We are mandated reporters, so once we report then the children services department takes over as far as for a discharge plan," she says.
 
Rebman says after the baby is born, the center often tries to help the mother get into an addiction program.
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