In the fallout of the opioid epidemic in this country, the most heartbreaking cases are often the youngest: newborn babies born to addiction.
As Washington state tries to track the cases, a clinic in Kent helps care for them.
On Monday, the Pediatric Interim Care Center in Kent had seven babies in their care. All of them had been exposed to opioids before they were born. Some also had a variety of other drugs.
Nurse Kelly DenHeyer checks the vitals on a 7-week-old baby boy.
The casual observer might not see the signs that this baby was exposed to heroin, methamphetamine, and methadone while he was in the womb.
"We also check to see they have increase tone in their legs and arms," she explained.
The muscle tone comes from the uncontrollable tremors of heroin withdrawal.
"Normally when they're in more severe withdrawals they're more irritable," she said.
Another two-week-old newborn had heroin, methamphetamine, and ecstasy in his system. The nurses explained the meth can mask the symptoms of heroin withdrawal.
Unlike the other drugs, the babies often need to be weened off the opioids. So DenHeyer reaches into a cabinet to get a small dosage or morphine, which she administers to another one-month-old baby as an oral medication.
Nurses decrease the dosage every day based on a scoring system for the list of symptoms they see.
"If he wasn't tolerating his ween, we may already know it by know. he'd be kind of fussy and irritable throughout the day," DenHeyer explained.
"It's sad to see the number of drugs in their system. It's rare to see one drug or two drugs," said PICC's executive director, Barbara Drennen.
Unlike the 90's when the center first opened, they see more babies coming from middle-class homes as opposed to mothers living on the street. Moms who often started taking oxycontin and transitioned to heroin.
"These moms have homes. They have cars. They have money to go to the store to buy a gallon of milk," said Drennan. "It's a different population."
The babies can stay here at PICC up to 12 weeks before the state places them with a relative, foster care, or back with a parent.
"Where the babies go, thank goodness, we have no say," said Drennan. "Quite often we're in tears when they leave. But often they're happy tears a lot of the time, and that's what's important.
Out of the 79 infants the center cared for last year, 71 had prenatal exposure to opioids.
They can stay at the center for up to three months.
According to the nursing staff, if the babies get the proper care to ween them off the drug, there should be no long-term impacts of that exposure.
© 2017 KING-TV