1 in 10 babies in Richmond are born addicted to drugs, prompting new action

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RICHMOND, Ind. – In what Reid Health hospital officials describe as a crisis, new action is being taken to help combat a rise in opioid-addicted babies.

This year 23 babies have been born addicted to opioids, which represent 11 percent of all births at the hospital, according to Lisa Suttle, the hospital’s director of psychiatric service line.

“It can be very dangerous for the baby,” she said.

The trend follows a notable 2015, when another 54 babies were born opioid-addicted.

“Nausea, vomiting, shaking,” Suttle said describing the side-effects. “A lot of anxiousness, anxiety, tremors.”

The scene playing out at Reid Health in Richmond is just a snapshot of problems facing communities across the state and country.

A soon-to-be-launched partnership between the hospital and Cross Road Christian Recovery Center for Women will offer an immediate treatment program option for addicted mothers who have just given birth. The program would allow mothers to bypass a typical eight to ten week waiting period in Wayne County.

“If we can help these women overcome their addiction, learn good parent skills and put them back in the life of their children, that’s a win-win for the mother and baby,” Wendy Canon said, executive director of the center.

On Tuesday, Gov. Mike Pence sent a letter to Indiana’s congressional delegation ahead of an expected vote this week in the U.S. House of Representatives aimed at addressing the nation’s opioid crisis.

Pence wrote, “Like you, at the state level we recognize that this issue is large in scope and severe in its impact on the lives of our citizens.”

Hospital officials in Richmond said more intensive testing has contributed to the reported rise in opioid-addicted babies, adding it is still too early to determine whether the trend will continue to rise.

“I think there’s a lot of awareness definitely because you hear people talk about it all the time and that’s probably the first step,” Suttle said. “Just that people are talking about it is wonderful, but there’s always probably more that can be done and we continue to talk about that as much as possible.”

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