Nurses at Akron Children's Hospital see increase in babies born to heroin-addicted mothers

Posted at 3:48 PM, Oct 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-12 10:06:00-04

Nurses at Akron Children’s Hospital are busier these days caring for heroin-addicted babies.


Last year alone they treated 120 heroin-addicted babies in their three Akron area intensive care units.


This year that number hit 81. And they're so busy lately, they project they’ll treat even more babies than last year.


The babies are born addicted to heroin, because their mothers used heroin while they were pregnant.


Just like adults, the babies go through painful withdrawal. Some have seizures. Others are not able to eat.


“It’s very heartbreaking to watch them go through withdrawal,”said clinical nurse specialist Connie Teal.


Teal said through medication like morphine they can nurse babies back to health.


“If they end up on the maximum dose of morphine that they can get, then we add a secondary medication, and then we have to slowly work to wean them off those medications before they can be discharged from the NICU,” Teal said.


Mothers addicted to heroin are given the painkiller methadone to help them to get off heroin.


Teal says pregnant mothers using heroin should get medical help because trying to quit heroin can traumatize the unborn baby’s health.


Teal said it takes up to 25 days to nurse a heroin addicted baby back to health. 


A spokesperson for Akron General Hospital said they are also treating baby’s born to heroin addicted mothers.