SPOKANE, Wash.—Health professionals with MultiCare Deaconess are seeing a potentially fatal problem plaguing more and more newborns each year.
Doctor David Egger said the most common issue Neonatal Intensive Care Unit workers see is infants born addicted to narcotics.
“It's gut wrenching seeing these babies go through withdrawal. You feel like you can't help them when you see them and they are shaking, and they can't get to sleep and they try to feed and they can't latch on. It looks like there is nothing that can soothe them,” said Egger.
Egger said they have seen a 14-percent increase in babies exposed to narcotics each year for more than a decade. He said the length of stay for these babies in intensive care has been increasing.
NICU nurse Deb Roth said she’s seen the effects the withdraws have on newborns.
“Being a NICU nurse is kind of like putting a puzzle together.The kids talk, but in a different way, and you have to learn their language and what they're really saying to you. And sometimes you have to step back and go, 'Ok, so what is really going on?'” said Roth.
Roth said a big problem she sees a is the number of mothers who open up about their narcotic use while being pregnant.
“We need to treat narcotic addiction in these mothers as a disease and not some sort of moral decay,” said Roth.
Roth urged addicted mothers to get help if they can because it will help their children.
Every 25 minutes, a baby is born suffering from opiate withdrawal (National Institute on Drug Abuse). This can be deadly. pic.twitter.com/tPqvx0N5Gx— Rob Harris (@KREMRob) October 10, 2017