Newscasts

PNS Daily Newscast - July 19, 2018 


Efforts continue to quell the backlash over President Donald Trump’s changing statements on the Russia summit. Also on the Thursday rundown: protestors are out for Mike Pence’s visit to Missouri; and nobody wants to go, but one option is green burials.

Daily Newscasts

Ohio Opiate Epidemic: Helping Babies Born Addicted

PHOTO: The number of babies born dependent on opiates has increased in Ohio in recent years, and a task force of experts is examining the best ways to address the problem. Photo credit: M. Kuhlman.
PHOTO: The number of babies born dependent on opiates has increased in Ohio in recent years, and a task force of experts is examining the best ways to address the problem. Photo credit: M. Kuhlman.
April 9, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio - As they try to solve Ohio's opiate epidemic, the state's health, child-welfare and policy leaders are zeroing in on ways to help some of the most vulnerable addicts - infants.

Babies born to mothers who are addicted to opiates, including heroin and prescription painkillers, suffer from what is known as Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. Registered nurse Elizabeth Tisdale at Mercy Health near Cincinnati said it means many complications for these little ones.

"These kids can be awake up to 32, 36 hours," she said. "They're just miserable. They have a high-pitched cry. They have an increased need to suck; they suck constantly to the point where some of them just overfeed themselves. And then, of course, you get the vomiting and diarrhea."

Mercy Health is among the hospitals working to address this issue through maternal drug use screenings, better parent education and communication with private pediatricians. In 2011, it's estimated that statewide, there were roughly five admissions a day for Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, and treatment expenses topped $70 million.

To improve the odds of identifying drug addiction in children and their mothers, Tisdale said, her hospital instituted a universal drug screening process. She said their results show the problem has a much broader scope than they initially believed.

"There was a realization that it was across the board, it wasn't just your lower socioeconomic moms that were using," she said. "We were finding our little 'soccer moms' were having some difficulties, too."

Tim Dick, deputy director of Clermont County Children's Protective Services, said the opiate epidemic is complicating their efforts to strengthen families. Both babies and parents who are addicted must undergo lengthy and expensive treatment, he said, adding that the addiction often is so strong that many parents relapse and can't be reunited with their children.

"If after one year a parent is not working towards treatment, then we are required to file for permanent custody," he said, "which means that all parental rights would be severed and the child would be free for adoption."

Dick chairs the new Child Welfare Opiate Engagement Task Force, with the goals of improving outcomes for addicted parents and reducing the number of children removed from parental custody. It includes leaders in child welfare, medicine and the court system, and is examining best practices and policies for dealing with opiate addiction.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH