Cases of newborns addicted to drugs on the rise

LONDON, Ky. (WYMT) - A new battle is brewing in the war on drugs.

Medical officials said they are seeing a huge increase in the number of babies born addicted to drugs.

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) was the topic of discussion Thursday at the London Community Center.

"I have seen babies go into immediate withdrawal, showing signs of seizures shortly after birth within minutes of delivery," said Carla Saunders, a neonatal nurse practitioner with East Tennessee Children's Hospital.

Saunders delivered hundreds of addicted newborns over the past several years and said that number is rising.

"Babies are born physically drug dependent because they do not have that ability to have that craving and seek that drug," she said. "So 'babies born addicted' is very catching and it gets our attention, but the reality of it is babies are born dependent."

Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., said in 2001 there were 67 babies born addicted in Kentucky but in 2011 that number increased to 730.

"It's not just in Kentucky," Rogers said. "Nurseries across the country had a 330 percent increase during the last decade."

Operation UNITE sponsored the roundtable.

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