More babies born into drug addiction in Ohio - News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

More babies born into drug addiction in Ohio

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It's another symptom of the drug epidemic; some of the smallest victims caught up in the problem are growing in number at a startling rate.

The Ohio Department of Health's latest report shows the number of babies born into drug addiction was eight times higher when they compared numbers from 2005 to 2015. 

In 2015, the state reports 84 newborns a day were treated for drug withdrawal.

The constant care costing our health system nearly $133 million that year, 90-percent of those cases were covered by Medicaid.

State mental health leaders say 2017 shows no evidence of that slowing down with neonatal intensive care units seeing steady demand for treatment.

"Some settings are running out of capacity and they don't have a place for all of these babies, so they're having to be triaged out of the NICU to other lower levels of care," said Rick Massatti with the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

Babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome stayed in NICU units for an average of 14 days in 2015.

Akron Children's Hospital has been tracking the number of babies born into drug addictions since 2008. 

In 2010, the hospital system saw its case load of the number of infants born with addiction jump from 20 to 50 cases. 

Doctors told 21 News in 2016 that they were noticing a gradual increase ever since then to about 70 babies a year.

Doctors in the Valley say heroin is the leading opiate that expecting mothers are using.

"This is not going to go away with smacking people on the hand, throwing them in prison," said Dr. John Venglarcik, III, Northside Medical Center. "The only way this is going to get better is if we sit down and recognize the addicts, the mothers, have a disease."

Dr. Venglarcik believes addiction treatment for anyone using drugs needs to go beyond the mandatory 28 days currently required. He said mothers struggling with addiction who are pregnant need more resources.

Massatti is confident the state could receive funding in the next month from the 21st Century Cure's Act. If the state receives funding, Massatti said it would begin building on programs that would benefit and support mothers with children suffering from addiction.

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