'Heroin babies' skyrocketing in N.J. as statewide epidemic grips newborns

Source: NJ.com Health
They scream and writhe. They vomit and sweat. They shake uncontrollably.
They are literally born into suffering.
An analysis by NJ Advance Media shows that in some parts of New Jersey, more than one out of every 50 babies in 2014 was born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) — dependent on drugs their mother ingested during pregnancy.
“It’s heartbreaking. You just want to pick these babies up and hold them in your arms,” said Sharon Burke, Director of Infant and Toddler Rehabilitation at Children’s Specialized Hospital in New Brunswick. “Over the last five years, it has really narrowed down to opioid use, and it’s increasing.”

Statewide, about 6.4 of every 1,000 babies born in 2014 were diagnosed with NAS, according to data from the New Jersey Department of Health.

In Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Salem and Sussex counties, more than 1 out of every 100 babies is born with NAS. In Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland counties, it’s more than one out of 50.
Mothers struggling with addiction can pass on chemical dependencies to their unborn child in pregnancy, Burke said. When a child is born and that link is broken, a newborn can quickly begin going through withdrawal.
Neonatal abstinence syndrome is characterized by unconsolable irritability, vomiting, diarrhea, high blood pressure and increased muscle contractions. Serious cases can lead to seizures and research by Children’s Specialized Hospital suggest it can cause long-term developmental issues.
“The important thing people need to know is that this is treatable,” Burke said. “We need to take a very human approach and not judge mothers. We all make mistakes and this is a big one but it’s one we can treat,” Burke said. “90 percent of our newborns go home with their biological mothers.”
The trend in NAS cases mirror substance abuse trends in New Jersey. Heroin and opioid use has mushroomed in the Garden State over the last decade, killing more than 5,000 and enslaving at least 128,000.
Mothers struggling with addiction can pass on chemical dependencies to their unborn child in pregnancy, Burke said. When a child is born and that link is broken, a newborn can quickly begin going through withdrawal.
Neonatal abstinence syndrome is characterized by unconsolable irritability, vomiting, diarrhea, high blood pressure and increased muscle contractions. Serious cases can lead to seizures and research by Children’s Specialized Hospital suggest it can cause long-term developmental issues.
“The important thing people need to know is that this is treatable,” Burke said. “We need to take a very human approach and not judge mothers. We all make mistakes and this is a big one but it’s one we can treat,” Burke said. “90 percent of our newborns go home with their biological mothers.”
The trend in NAS cases mirror substance abuse trends in New Jersey. Heroin and opioid use has mushroomed in the Garden State over the last decade, killing more than 5,000 and enslaving at least 128,000.

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