Here's Why Kids Are The Biggest Victims Of The Opioid Crisis

By
Share
Ad failed to load

According to the National Institutes on Drug Abuse, more than 90 Americans die every day from opioid overdose. The opioid crisis has reached epidemic levels in the United States, with as many as more than a half a million more people estimated to die from overdoses in the next decade alone, according to a forecast in June by STAT. As you dive deeper into the bleak statistics of opioid addiction, there's one that stands out above the rest — and it's why kids are the biggest victims of the opioid crisis.

Women and adolescents have been identified as two special populations that have been significantly impacted by the opioid epidemic, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine. But there's a much younger demographic that has faced an alarming rise in opioid addiction — or more specifically, opioid withdrawal.

In the United States, a baby is born suffering from neonatal abstinence syndrome — the official term for opioid withdrawal in newborns — every 25 minutes: Not every day or even every hour, but every 25 minutes. A 2016 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the number of babies born with opioid withdrawal had tripled over a 15-year period between 1999 and 2013.

Ad failed to load

Babies born with NAS exhibit a long list of terrifying symptoms that can appear as early as within 24 hours to as late as 10 days after birth. According to Stanford Children's Health, symptoms of NAS can include tremors and trembling, excessive high-pitched crying, vomiting, diarrhea, and even frightening seizures. It's these rising numbers of babies born addicted to opioids that have the medical community rethinking it's previous approach to treating these fragile patients, an in-depth report from The New York Times published on Friday.

Just as treatment for adults with opioid addiction typically includes the use of substitute opioid medications such as methadone and buprenorphine to allow a patient to withdrawal, newborns often require similar treatment. Typical treatment involves the administration of morphine under the newborn's tongue over a course of two to 12 weeks, allowing the babies to wean from the drug, according to The Times. Recent studies have shown that other supportive treatments using morphine sulphate or buprenorphine are more effective than morphine for babies with NAS.

Ad failed to load

Typically, after a baby with NAS is born, it's taken away from its mother to be treated for the effects of opioid withdrawal in the NICU. But according to many experts, this could be the worst approach for the health of the newborn. University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine pediatrics professor Dr. Debra L. Bogen emphasized to The Times the important role that mothers must play in the recovery of newborns with NAS: "The model of care that’s being touted now is really that the mother is the first line of treatment for the baby." Dr. Matthew Grossman, a pediatric hospitalist at Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital added, "Mom is a powerful treatment."

Ad failed to load

It's a radical and far more compassionate shift in the approach of how children with NAS are being treated by the medical community. It also reflects the changing attitudes towards drug-addicted mothers. In the 1980s and 90s, these same children would have been labeled crack babies, and their mothers far worse. Now 30 years later, the medical profession has taken its first steps towards an approach that encourages holistic, bonded healing of both mother and baby. When these children are born with no choice or say in an addiction that was done to them, this kind of compassion is essential for the opioid epidemic's youngest and most vulnerable victims.

Ad failed to load

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

8 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say That, Yes, You Are Their Favorite

For a baby to show a preference for a specific person is not only normal, but an essential part of their development. Babies need to form strong attachments to their caregivers for their emotional, social, and physical wellbeing. Usually, but not alw…
By Kimmie Fink

10 Reasons Why I Won't Apologize For Giving My Toddler A Pacifier

My first child had no interest in a pacifier. I tried a couple times to get him to take one, but he always spat them out and gave me an incredulous, judgmental look. But my second? It was love at first suckle. And after a while, the incredulous, judg…
By Jamie Kenney

Being A Dog Parent Prepared Me For Having A Baby, Really

I’ve always wanted kids; I was never as sure about raising a puppy. Then I spent six months living with someone who brought home an eight-week-old golden retriever puppy, and I see no way to make it out of that experience claiming not to love dogs. I…
By Heather Caplan

20 Of The Most Popular Unisex Names Of All Time, That You'll Be Hearing More Of For Sure

You might think of unisex names as a fairly recent trend, but the truth is these versatile monikers have been commonly used throughout history (well, some more commonly than others). That's why the team over at Names.org recently compiled a list of t…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

How To Have A Date Night With No Babysitter, Because It's Easier Than You Think

After having children, many couples feel that their love lives immediately go out the window, but it's so important to make your romantic life a priority so both you and your partner can be the best versions of yourselves you can be. As we all know, …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

9 Ways Baby No. 3 Made My Family Feel Complete

My husband and I decided to have another baby right after we got married and, well, we had no idea what we were getting into. I got pregnant right away, endured a high-risk pregnancy, and, before I knew it, my third baby had arrived. Together, we emb…
By Steph Montgomery

8 Stereotypes About New Dads That Are *Totally* True

Much like new mothers, new fathers have a lot on their plate. Parenting can be scary and complex, especially at first and regardless of your gender. People want to do right by their kids, after all. And since all new parents are a hot mess, dads are …
By Priscilla Blossom

8 Differences Between Being Pregnant In Your 20s Vs 30s, According To Science

Whether you're planning a pregnancy, or just thinking about your future family, it's typical to think about things like child-spacing, how many kids you want, and when to start trying to conceive. When making your pro/con list, you might also conside…
By Steph Montgomery

16 Moms Share Remedies For Their Most Intense Chocolate Cravings During Pregnancy

For better or worse, pregnancy is usually synonymous with odd cravings. Sure, there are the stereotypical combos like pickles and ice cream that plague gestating women the world over, but there are other mind-boggling combinations, too, including but…
By Candace Ganger

Putting Sunscreen On Your Kid Doesn't Have To Be A Fight — Here's How To Do It

I am almost translucent, so me and sunscreen are basically besties at this point. Even though my children are beautifully deep brown thanks to my husband's genetics, I still slather them like biscuits being buttered because I refuse to take risks wit…
By Cat Bowen

7 Things A Mom Really Means When She Says She Doesn't Want Anything On Mother's Day

Every year my family asks me what I want for Mother's Day, and every single year I tell them the same thing: Nothing. So, by now, they know that when I say "nothing" I absolutely do not mean "nothing." In fact, there are more than a few things a mom …
By Candace Ganger

19 Moms Share The Way They Cured Their Pregnancy Comfort Food Cravings

I was obnoxiously sick during the first trimester with, "lucky" for me, both of my pregnancies. For the first three months I lived on saltines, lemonade, and fresh bread. Once I was able to eat, however, all I wanted was savory and sweet comfort food…
By Dina Leygerman

8 Fascinating Facts About Babies Born In May, The Luckiest Month Of All

The height of all things fresh and springy, May is an excellent month to have a baby. It's a time of growth, graduations, and outdoor celebrations. And these fascinating facts about May babies will give you more reasons than ever to appreciate childr…
By Lindsay E. Mack

I Used To Judge Formula-Feeding Moms — Until I Became One

The other patrons in the hip Brooklyn restaurant probably couldn’t care less what I was feeding my baby, but I’ll always remember the shame I felt as I quickly mixed up his bottle of formula in front of them. I admitted to my childless friend that I …
By Katherine Martinelli

7 White Lies It’s Necessary To Tell To Keep Your Relationship Healthy

Telling lots of lies typically isn't associated with a healthy, strong, lasting relationship, and that's still certainly true, but not all lies are exactly the same. Though you've probably heard from someone at least once or twice that the lie they t…
By Lauren Schumacker

The Skinny Jeans That Saved Me Postpartum

Accepting my post-pregnancy body is hands-down one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It’s something that I still work on every single day. During my first pregnancy, I was 20 years old, so I managed to bounce back quickly. In fact, I dropp…
By Allison Cooper

7 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say They Feel Safe

In those first weeks of new motherhood, it can feel like you need an interpreter for your newborn. With their limited means of communication, figuring out what message your baby is trying to get across to you can be a challenge. With time, however, y…
By Kimmie Fink

Here's Why Dogs Are Obsessed With Babies' Poop, According To Science

Most family dogs seem to understand babies, and they're more than happy to make friends with the newest member of the pack. It's adorable... for the most part and until you go to change your little one's diaper. Suddenly, you're wondering why dogs ar…
By Lindsay E. Mack

6 Signs You're Meant To Have A Big Age Gap Between Kids

There's a five year age difference between my two children, to the day. Their age gap wasn't planned but, for a variety of reasons, works well for our family. And since I was so focused on having a second baby, I totally overlooked the signs that wou…
By Candace Ganger

Here's The Right Birth Method For You, According To Your Zodiac Sign

If you're pregnant, you've probably given childbirth some serious thought. Some moms-to-be prepare a meticulous birth plan, while others are comfortable just going with the flow. And me? Well, I made a plan... but that plan was useless when faced wit…
By Steph Montgomery

My Dog Knew I Was Pregnant Before My Family Did

Growing up, I was 100 percent sure I'd be a mom one day. To a dog, that is. My baby plans came later. And once my husband and I were sure we wanted both a dog and a baby, we'd add to our joint dog-and-baby name list over Sunday brunch or on date nigh…
By Melissa Mills
)}