As prescription drugs become a growing problem across the country, more hospitals are seeing cases of addicted babies. Women who are carrying children typically cannot control their addictions during pregnancy.
In Florida, more than 635 babies were born with drug withdrawal symptoms in the first half of 2010 as a result of their mothers taking narcotics, according to the St. Petersburg Times. The state Agency for Healthcare Administration says that this will put the state on target to surpass the previous record of almost 1,000 drug-addicted babies set in 2009. Between 2006 and 2009, the number of newborns with a substance dependency increased by 173 percent.
Terri Ashmeade, medical director of Tampa General Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit, told the news source that the actual number is most likely higher than recorded. Doctors diagnose the condition in babies who are still in the hospital, but many do not begin to show symptoms until they return home.
Drug addiction costs the U.S. more than $484 billion annually, according to the Department of Justice. Drug rehab programs can help mothers sober up prior to giving birth, providing their newborns with a chance at a healthy life.