The rate newborn babies begin their lives impacted by opioid drugs continues to climb, according to Reid Health statistics.
Through May, 44 mothers giving birth at Reid tested positive for opioids, said Lisa Suttle, Reid's director of strategic initiatives for community psych services, at a meeting of the Heroin Is Here group. The rate easily outpaces 2016, when 58 mothers tested positive for opioids. Assuming the rate of about nine mothers per month continues, more than 100 new mothers at Reid would test positive for opioids this year.
Babies exposed to opioids in the womb can experience a series of problems known as neonatal abstinence syndrome. Impacts include low birth rate, breathing and feeding problems and seizures. Expectant mothers testing positive for opioids are not permitted to withdraw until after the birth because withdrawal before birth is dangerous for the baby.
Reid, which previously had tested mothers showing signs of drug use, began universal screens for all expectant mothers late during 2015. A sharp increase in mothers testing positive resulted. During 2015, 54 mothers tested positive. The number was 31 in 2014, 11 in 2013, 15 in 2012, four in 2011 and one in 2010.
Reid attempts to help the mothers beat addiction through a partnership with Cross Road Christian Recovery Center for Women. Reid also operates a birth control clinic at Richmond Comprehensive Treatment Center to prevent pregnancies in women addicted to opioids.