GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — The neo-natal intensive care unit is constantly buzzing with babies that need special care to ensure success in the early stages of their lives. At Vidant Medical Center, some of those babies are struggling with addiction.
“Our main focus in the immediate period is getting them through those symptoms,” says NICU Medical Director Dr. Ryan Moore.
The symptoms Dr. Ryan Moore mentioned are experienced when the baby goes through withdrawals.
“The way the fetus or the unborn child reacts to that after delivery often mimics a lot of the withdrawal symptoms that the parent has,” explains Dr. James DeVente, Vidant Medical Center’s Labor and Delivery Director.
Babies born addicted are a growing concern for doctors across the Tar Heel state.
“It’s a major issue not only in Eastern North Carolina but in the entire state,” says DeVente. “Depending on what part of the state you’re in depends on what drug that is most prevalent.”
Addictions vary from meth to cocaine, heroin, alcohol, and even cigarettes which all have the potential to negatively impact the child. Dr. DeVente says doctors work to address the issues for both the mother and child.
“A lot of things that we focus on initially that is very easy to get distracted by is the drug that they’re abusing or that they’ve been taking for abuse when it’s more productive to focus on why they’re abusing the substance,” says DeVente.
The main focus of the doctors is to give the babies the best chance possible moving forward. They can only do that if the parents ask for help.
“I would encourage moms who are potentially taking substances to be very open and honest with their care providers,” says Dr. Moore. “If we know that a baby is at risk then we will change the way that we treat them and we will watch them more closely.”
Doctors encourage mothers who may be struggling with addiction to see medical help immediately. There are many programs in place to help those struggling with addiction.