Opioid crisis leads to spike in babies born addicted to heroin

Updated: Jul. 12, 2017 at 10:48 AM CDT
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WSFA/NBC - The opioid crisis is now claiming the tiniest of victims.

Pat Saxon sees it every day. She spends her days cuddling preemies at Sarasota Memorial Hospital. She watches and feeds the babies before they're sent home.

Saxon says, some babies are harder to care for than others.

"You can tell from the screams and the crying. You can pretty much pick out which ones are the drug babies before you walk in a room," said Paxon.

It's called Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome and it occurs when the baby's mother is addicted to illegal narcotics or opioids, like heroin.

"It's sad. You can't console the babies at times. They have tremors, they cry a lot, they have a hard time eating," said Paxon.

Dr. Tony Napolitano says these babies are medically treated for weeks to wean off the drugs and the consequences are long lasting. Studies have shown drug-addicted babies experience learning difficulties as they grow older.

Napolitano said, "They're having problems with not being able to learn very well. they become somewhat dysfunctional, so even as they're getting into adulthood, early adulthood, some of these children are having problems."

Doctors are hopeful mothers addicted to drugs will seek help before it impacts more innocent victims.

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