Experts: Prenatal care can be difference between life and death for babies of drug-addicted women

ANDERSON, Ind. -- An Anderson mom is in jail on murder charges, and investigators believe Kelli Leever Driskel's baby died likely because of her drug use.

The medical report showed the baby boy likely died from complications due to meth, fentanyl, and other opioids.

In Madison County, health officials say there aren't many services available specifically for pregnant women addicted to drugs. Many women must commit to getting clean and sober before being accepted into programs to help them care for themselves and their babies. Health department officials say they aren't aware of any plans to build or create a facility that would house pregnant and drug-addicted women.

Syd Ehmke is the COO for Aspire Indiana Health. She says pregnant and drug addicted women can visit their facility for a referral to a location that can help them recover. Ehmke stressed the importance of prevention and said the first few months of a pregnancy are crucial.

"We do have some pregnant women that have come in and they have been actively using heroin," Ehmke said.

According to the Indiana State Department of Health, 25 percent of women in Madison County don't get prenatal care in their first trimester. Ehmke said the eastern region of Indiana, including Madison County, is responsible for 13 percent of infant death rates across the state.

"It takes a lot of courage for somebody who is pregnant to do the right thing and to go in and get prenatal care and to know there are going to be some consequences for the use, but it’s doing the right thing for the baby and the health of the baby," Ehmke said.

The Madison County Prosecutors office filed for a 72-hour hold on Leever Driskel's case. They have until Wednesday to file formal murder charges.

Women in need of services can contact Aspire Indiana, IncCommunity Health in Anderson also can refer women to resources.

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