NPR: Babies Born Dependent On Opioids Need Touch, Not Tech
Photo & article by Alex Smith
Dr. Jodi Jackson has worked for years to address infant mortality in Kansas. Often, that means she is treating newborns in a high-tech neonatal intensive care unit with sophisticated equipment whirring and beeping. That is exactly the wrong place for an infant like Lili.
Lili's mother, Victoria, used heroin for the first two-thirds of her pregnancy and hated herself for it. (NPR is using her first name only, because she has used illegal drugs.)
"When you are in withdrawal, you feel your baby that's in withdrawal too," says Victoria, recalling the sensations she remembers from her pregnancy. "You feel your baby uncomfortable inside of you, and you know that. And then you use and then the baby's not [uncomfortable], and that's a really awful, vulgar thought, but it's true. That's how it is. It's terrible."
Though Victoria went into recovery before giving birth, Lili was born dependent on the methadone Victoria took to treat her opioid addiction. Treatment for infants like Lili has evolved, Jackson says.
"What happened 10, 15 years ago, is [drug dependent] babies were immediately removed from the mom, and they were put in an ICU warmer with bright lights with nobody holding them," says Jackson, who is a neonatologist at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri. "Of course, they are going to be upset about that! And so the risk of withdrawal is much higher."
Read the full article via NPR.
Learn more about the neonatology team at Children's Mercy.