States of Addiction - The Tiniest Victims - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

States of Addiction - The Tiniest Victims

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We continue our look into the states of addiction, with a look at the most vulnerable victims of the raging epidemic in the tri-state region,  including one new mom and her baby from Middleport, Ohio.

Remington is just 35 days old, but in his short life he has already become a survivor.

He was born with neonatal abstinence syndrome, meaning he was born going through withdrawal from drugs.

"When I went into deliver him they asked me what medications I was prescribed," said his mother Jordann Thomas, "I was honest with them about what I had in my system, when he came out they told me we have this program here we treat N.A.S. babies."

Thomas was in a treatment program to help her kick her decade long drug addiction.

"I was back in the Suboxone program for a little over two months and found out I was pregnant," said Thomas.

She was prescribed a medication called Subutex. It has been approved by the FDA for treatment of opiate addiction to help with withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings.  But, it can be dangerous for newborns. It's a growing problem in this tri-state region, at over 25 times the national average.

"We have about 2600 to 3000 babies born here every year," said Sara Murray, RN clinical coordinator NTU, "That's a lot of babies,  that's a lot of addiction, we recognize we have a problem."

So Thomas along with other advocates looked for a solution, and the neonatal therapeutic unit was born. That was in 2012, Dr. Sean Loudin has also been on board since the beginning.

"Drug exposed infants are unique they are a special set of infants that require special thought," said Dr. Loudin, Neonatology Pediatrics," They require special attention, we know how bad our problem is so instead of shying away from that why not be innovative, and why not give them the best care that they need. We feel like we are on the cutting edge of that and we are proud of that!" 

Babies like Remington are handled in slow rhythmic movements to combat the trimmers that can afflict them. Lights are dimmer in this unit, so as not to over-stimulate them. Special dietary plans are created to help with their severe stomach issues. And yes, they are also weaned off of one drug with another .. like Methadone. That idea frightened this new mom.

"I freaked clear out about that because there's not a doctor that will prescribe a pregnant female or tell you to take Methadone because of the long term affects," said Thomas, "it's a potent and dangerous drug, when I was told your baby is going through withdrawals from the Subutex that you were prescribed and we're going to have to withdraw him off of Subutex with Methadone .. I lost it!"

Jordan says, she thought my child is addicted and guilt was the biggest emotion she battled.

As babies are treated, their parents are counseled.

"For me the most challenging thing is having the moms have to leave their babies here," said Murray.

But baby Remington will be going home soon, hopefully within a week.  

"He got his last dose of Methadone this morning so he's completely off the Methadone now," said Thomas, "They will monitor him and make sure that his body reacts okay, it's been long and it's been hard road, but now that I look back on it I wouldn't want anything different to happen,"

And,  now as this new mom sees a bright and clean future for her and her baby, "I'm so happy I made the choice that I did .. I just wish I made it sooner!"

This nurse pledges to continue to fight for babies just like Remington, "We would like for us never to have to have another bed for an N.A.S. baby, but this is not realistic today in Huntington," said Murray," and so until that is realistic they will get the best care here."

Child Protective Services makes sure that these babies are going to safe homes. They have medical follow-ups with the hospital.  Thomas says, one of the best parts of her job is when these babies come back to see her and they and their parents are happy and healthy.

Thomas says, Cabell-Huntington is the only hospital in the region that does universal testing on all mothers and if they test positive for drugs or if their baby is symptomatic, they test umbilical cords. That gives their lab the ability to detect quite a few different drugs, so they can treat the babies more effectively.  

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