Speaking Out For Unborn Children

It is good to see community organizations stepping up to help fight the scourge of neonatal abstinence syndrome.

Neonatal abstinence syndrome is a sterile term for something truly terrible. NAS babies are born with opioid withdrawal symptoms, because their mothers used heroin and similar drugs while pregnant. The poison went into their bloodstreams, then to the unborn children they were carrying. NAS babies can suffer agony while their systems adjust to life without opioids. There is evidence the problem can affect them adversely in later life.

NAS is a problem in Chautauqua County. From 2005 to 2014, newborn drug-related diagnosis rates have drastically increased in Chautauqua County. From 2012 to 2014, 118 babies born tested positive for drugs in the delivery hospital, resulting in a rate of 305.6 per 10,000 newborn discharges, nearly three times greater than the New York State rate of 103.5 per 10,000. Treating a baby born with neonatal abstinence syndrome can cost 15 to 16 times more than healthy infants, according to statistics from the University of Rochester Medical Center’s website.

We’re glad to see, then, that the Blackwell Chapel Baby Cafe is partnering with existing agencies working to decrease the number of drug-addicted newborns in our community. Davina A. Moss-King, a certified rehabilitation counselor and New York state credentialed alcohol and substance abuse counselor, discussed the issue recently in an event sponsored by the Blackwell Chapel Baby Cafe, UPMC Chautauqua WCA and the Chautauqua Alcohol and Substance Abuse Council and noted illegal drugs aren’t the only substances that mothers need to be wary about putting into their bodies. She said mothers can at times also use alcohol, cigarettes or other substances which would also impact the baby. She said there have been more instances of these issues since the spread of the opioid epidemic.

“Be aware of substance use and misuse,” she said. “If the mom is pregnant, even if she doesn’t think she has a problem, she should seek assistance immediately.”

Community organizations like the Baby Cafe are integral in the effort to reach as many mothers, and expectant mothers, about the damage opioids are doing to babies. We are lucky to have such organizations in our midst.