Study: California Newborns Addicted To Opioid Painkillers More Than Doubles

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Newborn babies are the latest and most innocent victims of the nation’s opioid crisis.

A new study shows that just in the last five years, the number of California babies born addicted to opioid painkillers has more than doubled.

It’s baby Mateo’s first time at the park.

He’s only two months old. But his mom, Brianne, is just as cautious now as she was while pregnant with him — especially when it comes to medicine.

“You never know really how it could affect your child,” she says.

But a growing number of moms being treated with pain medicine, sometimes before becoming pregnant, are delivering babies addicted to mom’s meds. It’s called neonatal abstinence syndrome. The term refers to the drug withdrawal a baby experiences while still in the womb. The symptoms are so startling that babies are given morphine to ease the withdrawals.

“Really jittery. Really high tone. They’re stiff and rigid, very irritable,” said Dr. Kristin Hoffman.

Doctor Kristin Hoffman is a neonatologist at UC Davis Children’s Hospital. She sees at least one narcotic-affected newborn at any given time. But she says, what’s unusual is the moms having these babies.

“It’s often not the parent you expect, and so you kind of lose the anger at the family because some of these people have legitimate reasons to have these exposures,” said Dr. Hoffman.

Historically, the opioid epidemic hit drug-addicted women from rural communities. Now, many pregnant women affected aren’t disadvantaged — they’re desperate for pain-relief.

Social workers say many of these moms feel regret.

“They feel like it’s a system against them,” said Oscar Villasimon.

As a new mom, Brianne Morales hopes to see more research on the effects of all painkillers during pregnancy.

“Pregnancy is hard enough,” she said.

Babies who leave the NICU will be monitored for years.

More from Lemor Abrams
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