SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) –There are startling new numbers showing the impact of the nation’s drug problem on our smallest and most vulnerable. Tens of thousands of babies arrive in this world already addicted to prescription pain killers.
The cries of newborns, addicted to opiate painkillers, echoes through the Newborn Intensive Care Unit. It’s a sad, and piercing sound heard nationwide. Dr. Susan Wiedmeier, a neonatologist at Intermountain Medical Center says she sees at least one every month. “It’s not uncommon.”
A recent study shows there is a baby is born addicted to drugs every hour in the United States. Dr. Wimpier says its painful condition to treat." It's heartbreaking. It’s heart wrenching because they are absolutely miserable."
She says babies addicted to pain killers have difficulty eating; they experience vomiting, and diarrhea.
"It’s just like an adult who is trying to cold turkey."
They are gradually weaned from their addiction, but it can take up to a month, and the effects are long lasting.
Melissa recently adopted her two children. She knows about the developmental delays that come with drug addicted babies simple tasks take more time. “It takes just a little longer to learn to tie her shoes."
The brother and sister were born addicted to opiate pain killers. They are still in therapy. Melissa says "As a mother I do sometimes have difficult time understanding"
But she does understand what her son and daughter have already been through... and the blessing they are. “The benefits of having these special kids in our lives personally believe outweigh any of the hardships."
The total U.S. hospital bill for babies addicted to painkillers has also quadrupled nearing $720-million dollars. Dr. Wiedmeier says more needs to be done to educate mothers, and the medical community about the tragedy of infant addiction.