An epidemic of prescription painkiller abuse has led to another growing problem — newborns exposed to the addictive drugs their mothers use.
At the Catholic Health System in Buffalo, which operates the state’s largest methadone clinic outside of New York City, physicians used to see one to three babies a month with symptoms of withdrawal from narcotic pain pills. Now, the number approaches 10 a month, said Dr. Paul Updike, director of chemical dependency at Sisters Hospital.
The number of cases has grown enough that the hospital network is reorganizing services to standardize the care of addicted moms-to-be and their newborns.
“We can’t control the influences on a child’s environment, but withdrawal is quite treatable. We can give a child a chance for a reasonable life,” said Updike.