More than 13,500 infants each year are born addicted to drugs, says a study reported by the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram. The newspaper describes one case of a new baby who was suffering withdrawal from the methadone his mother took while he was in the womb. He was one of 12 to 16 babies the Tarrant County hospital delivers each year who are born with neonatal abstinence syndrome from being exposed to drugs while in the womb.
Though the percentage of babies born addicted to these drugs in the county is small the trend is growing at an alarming rate nationally. A national study this year in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that the number of babies treated for drug withdrawal after birth nearly tripled between 2000 and 2009, rising from 1.2 out of every 1,000 babies born in a hospital to 3.4 out of every 1,000 babies. These newborns, exposed to illegal drugs or prescription painkillers like Vicodin and Oxycontin, were significantly more likely than other babies to have low birth weight and respiratory complications, and require an average of $53,400 in hospital treatment. “Speaking with some of my neonatology colleagues, they describe it as the most concerning trend that exists in NICU today,” said Dr. Glenn Hardesty, an emergency room physician at Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital.