Doctors: Spike in babies born hooked on opioids due to mother’s addictions

Jim "Woods" Ellis
In this Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015 photograph, a jug of used needles to exchange for new is seen near, Jim "Woods" Ellis in an industrial area of Camden, N.J., as Ellis describes using the drug, naloxone, often known by the brand name Nacran, to reverse an addict's heroin overdose. Naloxone works most of the time, but national statistics aren’t kept on what happens to people who are revived. Some overdose again soon afterward. Some get treatment and get clean, but limited insurance, high costs and a shortage of spots at treatment centers can be hurdles. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indiana’s growing drug problem is spilling over to some of the most innocent victims: babies.

The (Richmond) Palladium-Item is reporting a 74 percent increase in babies born addicted to opioids over last year at Reid Health Hospital.

Hospitals in Marion County are also seeing increases in these cases.

Doctors said 10 years ago this wasn’t a problem. But they say they’ve identified the problem and help is on the way.

“I think its going to be 10 years down the road before we have a good handle on the way that we’ve developed this paradigm of treating patients,” said Dr. Amy LaHood, a family doctor at St. Vincent Indianapolis Hospital. “In the United States, we use more pain medications than any developed country in the world.

Dr. LaHood says the increased use of and addiction to pain medications among pregnant women is now leading to their babies being born addicted.

“We recognize that there’s a horrible unintended consequence, which is babies being born addicted to these medications,” said Dr. LaHood.

“It started with the increases in addiction to prescription pain medication that started in the late 90s (and) early 2000s,” said Dr. Anthony Sanders, an OB/GYN at Community Hospital East.

He says he’s seen a 30 percent to 35 percent increase over the last few years in babies born addicted to pain medications.

Some are also being born addicted to heroin.

“There’s also been an increase in IV opioid use like heroin,” said Dr. Sanders.

“It’s readily available, it’s a lot cheaper than the cost of buying illicit prescription drugs and its a huge problem,” said Dr. LaHood

The doctors say changes in federal and state laws is making it harder to prescribe pain medications, so their patients are turning to heroin.

“We need to provide access to other means to treat pain which we haven’t done a great job of in the past,” said Dr. LaHood.

Federal law requires state agencies to track the number of babies born addicted to drugs. 24-Hour News 8 reached out to the Indiana State Department of Health but the data wasn’t ready for publication.

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