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Heroin-Addicted Babies On The Rise
DAYTON -- The heroin epidemic plaguing the Miami Valley is now taking the lives of the youngest possible victims. Lawmakers, hospitals and other community leaders are taking steps to reduce the number of heroin-addicted infants by helping their mothers in the early stages of pregnancy.
The NICO at Miami Valley Hospital treats dozens of the hospital's tiniest patients every year. But recently, an increasing number of the babies born there are addicted to drugs, primarily heroin.
"A lot of people who are addicted to drugs really don't have a lot of hope, they're not sure where to turn," said Bryan Bucklew of the Greater Dayton Hospital Association.
Bucklew says there's been a 35 percent increase in babies born addicted to drugs in the past year. That's contributing to Ohio's horrible infant mortality rate, which is one of the worst in the nation.
"What does that tell you that we're almost the worst state when it comes to infant mortality?" asked our Reporter Liza Danver.
"It tells me we need to do more work on the front end. There needs to be better resources for out moms," said Dr. Marc Belcastro, who works in the NICU.
"We don't have to have our hospitals be on the catching end of seeing the devastation on the lives of these children," agreed Rep. Mike Turner (R-Dayton).
That's why Turner is leading the charge to develop an intervention program for drug addicted mom's. The goal is to identify them early, before they enter the delivery room. He wants the program to be up and running within six months.
"We're consuming so many resources after the fact that if we put more resources before the fact we could probably cut down on the numbers drastically," said Dr. Belcastro.
"If it was easy it would have already been taken care of. But the concern is we see the trend growing and growing. And Ohio does not do a good job in its infant mortality rate," said Bucklew.
Congressman Turner, hospitals, law enforcement and other drug treatment professionals are meeting again April 7 to talk about more specifics needed for this intervention program.
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