Hospitals seeing more prescription drug addicted babies

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by ROBERTA ROMERO / KING5 News

KING5.com

Posted on July 20, 2010 at 6:57 AM

SEATTLE - Prescription drug abuse is nothing new, but it's a problem that is growing and now babies are paying the price.

Hospitals are delivering more newborns addicted to the powerful opiates than ever before.

At any given moment, hospitals like Harborview Medical Center in Seattle are delivering babies that are addicted and more and more of them are withdrawing from prescription pills.

Barbara Drennen is co founder of the non-profit Kent Pediatric Interim Care Center. She takes care of addicted newborns.

Drennen says the medical community is well aware of the growing problem of prescription pill addiction and pregnant women.

They're using opiates like Oxycontin, Vicodin and Percocet, which can be highly addictive and very powerful.

One the biggest problems is that many times these types addictions can start out with legitimate prescription use but then quickly spin out of control..

It takes anywhere from 30 to 60 days for newborns to wean off of the drugs.

"So we need to move rather quickly because the minute that baby is born he's going to go cold turkey now that he's not receiving these drugs any longer," says Drennen.

As for the babies' long term recovery, the Pediatric Interim Care Center says other than being hypersensitive to overstimulation like noise and light, the babies should be fine.

Of course this is relatively new and the long term effects won't be known for some time.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse says some of the best ways to try and stop this growing problem are better training for doctors to spot the addictions, better training for pharmacists who interact with patients and can give them clear directions and for the patients themselves to follow the prescribed directions.

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