Columbus, OH,
13:00 PM

ABC6: Born Addicted: Number of babies born drug-dependent sky-rocketing in Central Ohio

The opioid epidemic is a very serious problem in the United States and in central Ohio. For about a decade, unintentional drug overdose remains the leading cause of injury-related deaths for Ohioans, surpassing car crashes. However, overdose is not the only risk related to prescription opioids. Misuse, abuse, and opioid use disorder (addiction) are also potential dangers for members of our community.

This crisis not only affects adults but our youth and even newborn babies as well. Thousands of babies are born drug-dependent, and that number is only rising. According to the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, more than 5,000 babies were born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) or opioid-dependent between 2004 and 2011.

“I think all over, across the state and the country we're seeing those numbers continue, unfortunately, I believe, continuing to rise,” Krisanna Deppen, MD, addiction medicine specialist at OhioHealth Grant Medical Center, told ABC6 reporter Rodney Dunigan.

Babies with NAS suffer from various unpleasant symptoms, including cold sweats, irritability and trouble sleeping.

“They are just experiencing the physical withdrawal from no longer getting that medication or drug from the mother," Dr. Deppen told Dunigan.

Although research is still ongoing, Dr. Deppen says that a big percentage of these children don’t have lingering health issues.

“So there's a lot of concern about what happens to these kids later and some of that we're continuing to follow these babies over time to make sure that they don't develop significant problems,” Dr. Deppen said to ABC6. “What I tell my moms and I think is true is that it matters somewhat less what these babies are exposed to in utero, or while the mom is pregnant, and matters a whole lot more that they have a safe, sober environment to grow up in.”

Dr. Deppen added that when kids have that safe environment, their outcomes seem to be similar to other kids.

To read the full ABC6 story, click on the logo.