Heroin Dependent Babies, 'The Silent Victims'

Jan 10, 2017

The number of babies born drug dependent continues to increase. In Greater Cincinnati and elsewhere neonatologists are looking for answers.

Cincinnati Children's Hospital's Dr. Kathy Wedig calls them the "silent victims." In 2007 she noticed an increase in babies who were exposed to opioids in utero. By 2015 her clinic was treating 240 babies a year. The most recent number is 700 to 800 babies are exposed annually.

She wants to determine better ways to treat the babies and get their mothers the help they need.

The most obvious solution is to get the mothers to stop doing drugs, or at least wean themselves off opioids before they give birth.

A meeting is planned for Thursday and a conference later this year. Among the goals: a seamless coordination of programs, financial resources and a look at which services actually work.

In Tennessee an entrepreneur is taking a novel approach in an attempt to reduce the costs associated with weaning the babies off of opioids.  The story aired on Marketplace.

At East Tennessee Children's Hospital, where nearly half of babies are born drug dependent, volunteers and support groups play a role.