Addicted Newborns On The Rise

BRYAN COUNTY, Okla. — A report recently released by Oklahoma’s Department of Human Services suggests the number of newborns addicted and exposed to alcohol and drugs is on the rise.

This possible trend resonates with medical professionals in the baby in hospitalsouthern Oklahoma area.

In 2013, DHS reports approximately 320 babies between ages 0 to 30 days old tested positive for substances. For 2014, that number is approximately 375.

“Anything that gets put into a woman’s body, the baby gets, too,” Durant OB-GYN Kinion Whittington said. “You need to be very careful about that and discuss that with your physician.”

Whittington says the rise reflects the high use of drugs in the Bryan County area, especially a spike in illegal use of prescription medications.

“There’s been an increase in the use of Hydrocodone and Oxycontin in this area,” he said.

The DHS report states that 49 babies were exposed to medications not prescribed to mom in 2013. But for 2014, that number nearly doubled to 96.

Yet, no matter what is ingested, life-long problems for the exposed child include a lower IQ and ADHD.

Early on, there is also the potential for death through poor nutrition leading to seizures.

“One of the very first things we do when we see a pregnant mom with addiction is we try to get them into treatment and detox them immediately, for the safety of the baby,” Whittington explained.

In Bryan County, that includes the drug court system for non-violent offenders to overcome addiction.

For pregnant mothers, Drug Court Coordinator Aamantha Dimas says the process works.

“We haven’t had a problem with them testing positive or admitting use,” she said.

The drug court system regularly tests participants to ensure they are sober of narcotics. It also helps them get back into the workforce, pay taxes and connect within their community.

Dimas attributes the drug court’s success to a positive attitude and encouragement shown to all participants.

“You’re here for a reason, you’re a good person,” she said of the participants. “You’re going to succeed if it’s what you want to do — it’s totally possible, you just have to want it.”

February 15, 2015


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