Number of Drug Addicted Babies Increase In The Mountain State


The high pitched cries, tremors, seizures, increased heart rate and even sleep deprivation are just a few of the symptoms doctors watch for just hours after a baby is born addicted to drugs. 

Alicia Maddix, MD, United Hospital Center said, “We have anywhere from one to two babies in the hospital at any one time that are recovering or withdrawing from medications that mothers have used.”

During pregnancy a mother who uses is exposing her unborn baby and potentially creating a new addict.

“This is a huge problem in this area as well as other areas of the country and a lot of moms are nervous about seeking that care because of judgment and what are they going to do to me if they find out I am using.  The provider is there to help,” said Dr. Maddix.     

Nationally, nearly 7 out of every 1,000 babies born in 2014 were diagnosed as drug dependent.  Here in West Virginia, the rate is about five times higher, 37 of every 1,000 babies.

Dr. Maddix said, “If the baby does start to show withdrawal that require treatment then we would go as far as to treat the baby with what we use at UHC is morphine.  Oral morphine, given every four hours to treat the symptoms of withdrawal so the baby doesn’t end up getting really sick and having seizures.”

The cost of treatment, plus extended nights in the hospital can get expensive.

Numbers show the average bill for an addicted baby in West Virginia was $84,000 in 2014. Compare that to nearly $13,000 for a healthy baby.

“We see this so often, we don’t single people out, we don’t judge.  We just want to do what is best for the moms and their babies and try to get them the help they need,” said Maddix.  

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