BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A local hospital has seen 100 to 200 babies a year monitored and/or treated for Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome over the past five years.
“They can be inconsolable. They scream,” Riley said.
He said they become “frantic” and at times have “difficulty” bottle feeding.
“We give them just a small amount of morphine with each feeding and then wean that about every 48 hours depending upon what their scores are in the neonatal abstinence scoring system,” he said.
The study, co-authored by Dr. Stephen Patrick, who at the time was affiliated with the University of Michigan, found that there was about one drug-dependent infant born per hour in the United States between 2000 and 2009.
The research data also found that the cost to care for drug-dependent babies dramatically increased from $190 million to $720 million over the same decade.
“All too often in our healthcare system we react to problems. Just like we do in the NICU,” said Patrick, now an assistant professor of pediatrics at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. “We react to a big problem of prescription opioid use. But if we could use those dollars more upstream perhaps we could prevent. It would not only be cost saving, but also prevent harm to both babies and their mothers.”