Opioid Epidemic Affecting Pennsylvania Newborns At Alarming Rate

Almost 2,000 babies last year were born in Pennsylvania with neonatal abstinence syndrome,

Joe DeStio
March 28, 2018 - 10:29 am
Newborn Baby
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PITTSBURGH (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) – The opioid epidemic in Pennsylvania is taking a toll on newborn babies.

Last fiscal year, 1,912 babies were born in Pennsylvania with neonatal abstinence syndrome, a condition the March of Dimes website says “can cause serious problem for your baby, like being born too small and having breathing problems.”

The rate is more than 10 times what it was 17 years ago when the opioid problem started.

Dr Neil Capretto, Medical Director at Gateway Rehab, says it’s important to get a pregnant woman help before giving birth and many of them are motivated to get off opioids when they are pregnant.

“Although it’s a challenge when a woman gets pregnant, it’s also an opportunity. They’re often more motivated to get help because of their pregnancy,” said Capretto.

Opioid babies are nearly twice as likely to have low birth rate, difficulty feeding, and longer hospital stays but Capretto says they can help the baby after they are born. “We have some good treatment programs. We can put them on medicines and if they’re treated properly, the babies can actually do fairly well.”