At the Children's Hospital at Erlanger, CEO Don Mueller says doctors are delivering more babies addicted to drugs.

“When these moms are on drugs they are exposing themselves and their babies to many obstacles the most severe of which is having a baby addicted to drugs and having them prematurely,” Mueller said. “Unfortunately this is not something you can stop cold turkey.”

It's an uphill battle Mueller says is rooted in the opioid epidemic.
“Between our two birthing hospitals we see more than 5,000 deliveries a year so each and every day our providers are dealing with moms that have been on drugs and use drugs and been on opioid and these babies are addicted.”

Mueller says as a result, newborns suffer from Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). In the U.S., he says a baby is born with the syndrome every 15 minutes.
“Once these babies are exposed to opioids they have to be detoxed just like the parents do,” he explained. “So heart rate skyrockets, they start sweating, they have uncontrollable pain, they scream incessantly because they're in so much pain some of these babies are so severe they have seizures and this can have long term devastating effects.”

Those same long-term effects affect mom as well, but Mueller says getting prenatal care can help.

“The only thing that's going to fix this problem is creating a safe harbor where these women can seek prenatal care without fear of being incarcerated or getting in trouble. They need to have safe relationships with their providers.”