Tag Archives: opioid crisis

Addicted at Birth

Week old infant weighing 430 grams,
Authors Aneta Meszko and Marcin Meszko (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

WARNING: Graphic Images

“In America, a baby is born dependent on opioids every 19 minutes [1A]”.

In the past ten years, over 130,000 children in the United States have been born with drug dependency inherited from a mother on heroin, methamphetamine, or opioids [1B].

Infant Detox

Called Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, this dependency causes poor feeding and suck reflex, with slow weight gain; vomiting; diarrhea; sweating; muscle cramps, seizures, and twitching; irritability; sleep problems; yawning, stuffy nose, and sneezing; along with shortness of breath [2][3].

Infants, in other words, experience many of the same withdrawal symptoms their mothers do [4]. They cry inconsolably from the pain.

While one study found that pre-natal drug exposure was not associated with increased mortality, it did find significantly higher mortality rates among low birth weight infants positive for cocaine and opiates [5].

Lack of Care

In one case, a baby in Oklahoma died after her mother, high on methamphetamine and opioids, put the 10-day-old girl in a washing machine with a load of dirty laundry [1C].”

The risk to addicted newborns does not stop there. Infants all too often die after being released home to mothers struggling with drug addiction.

Reuters has identified at least 110 such cases [1D]. More than 40 infants suffocated. Another 13 died after swallowing fatal doses of heroin, methadone, oxycodone, and other opioids.

In three-quarters of these cases, the mother was implicated in her child’s death; in other instances, a boyfriend, husband, or other relative was responsible [1E]. Continue reading

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Foster Care – A Failed System

Changes in Congregate Care in 8 States (9/30/04-9/30/13), Author US Govt. Accountability Office (GAO), Source https://www.gao.gov, (PD as work product of federal govt.)

Reporting by the Washington Post confirms what the public has long known.  Our foster care system is failing, nationwide.

One major flaw involves the use of detention centers and similar facilities to house children who have committed no infraction whatsoever [1A].

Warehousing

“…in an era when a surging number of biological parents are falling into the grips of drug addiction, and child welfare systems are struggling with a shortage of foster parents…case workers and courts have been funneling children into crowded emergency shelters, hotels, out-of-state institutions and youth prisons — cold, isolating and often dangerous facilities not built to house innocent children for years [1B].”

Both literally and figuratively, children taken into foster care for their own protection are instead being warehoused with rapists and murderers.  Some are forced to sleep on cement floors with harsh fluorescent lights on during lockdowns.

Scope of the Failure

Because foster care is decentralized, accurate figures are difficult to come by.

As of 2013, approximately 56,000 of the 400,000 children in foster care across the country (14% of the foster care population) were living in what is known as “congregate” care – group homes, detention centers, residential drug treatment facilities, and the like [2].  In West Virginia, fully 71% of 6800 foster children between the ages of 12 and 17 have been relegated to such institutions [1C].

The Opioid Crisis is greatly increasing those numbers. Continue reading

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Bunnies

Baby with toy bunny, Source https://www.flickr.com/photos/floridamemory/6520748155/, Author Florida Memory (PD)

WARNING: Graphic Images

  • Joseph Milano and Lauren Semanyk, a Maryland couple, have been charged with third degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in the death of their 10 month old daughter [1].   Other charges pending include possession of drug paraphernalia.  The couple waited over 6 hours to report that the baby had ingested fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50-100 times more powerful than morphine.  They described Angelina to emergency personnel as having drowned during a bath.
  • A 16 month old Pennsylvania toddler is in guarded condition after having chewed on a discarded baggie that held heroin [2].  Narcan saved both the baby’s life and his mother’s, both found unconscious.  A search at the home turned up a dozen empty heroin bags.  The mother is expected to be charged.
  • Antonio Floyd and Shantanice Barksdale, a Michigan couple, have been charged with second degree murder and manslaughter in the death of their 18 month old daughter [3].  The toddler, Ava, died after ingesting some 15 times the amount of fentanyl commonly seen in overdose deaths.  Drug residue, baggies, scales, herb grinders, and guns were found in the couple’s home.  They have two other children.

We mull over baby names.  We paint our nurseries pink and blue; decorate them with bunnies or friendly cartoon characters.  We buy sound machines, cashmere receiving blankets, teddy bears 3’ tall, and designer baby clothes.

Amid all the excitement, we overlook only one thing in preparing for the birth of a child.  And that is the very thing a child needs most:  loving and responsible parents, capable of putting their child’s needs first. Continue reading

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