The number of babies born with addiction is on the increase in the Sacramento area. I was very pleased to participate in news coverage regarding this preventable and very unfortunate condition. I was also impressed with our former client, Jennifer Hohnholz who shared her journey to recovery.
More Sacramento-area Newborns Suffer Withdrawal Resulting from Moms’ Drug Use
The neonatal unit isn’t supposed to be a drug rehab ward.
But the drugs their mothers took are causing more newborns in the Sacramento area to spend their first days of life suffering through the pains of withdrawal.
According to diagnosis reports from 2008 to 2010 submitted by hospitals to the state, the number of infants suffering withdrawal in the four-county area has doubled since the start of the decade.
Hospital stays are costly
Infants born with neonatal withdrawal syndrome regularly endure a long, expensive, painful hospital stay.
To reduce symptoms, doctors sometimes give newborns a dose of the drug they are addicted to, or something similar, and then wean the baby off it slowly, Rosas said.
“They can be quite sick,” said Rosas.
The median length of hospital stay for local newborns with the syndrome is 10 days, compared to two days for births without complications, state data show.
The long stays are costly. The average hospital charge for these newborns was $110,000 in 2010, though agreements with insurance providers can significantly lower that amount.
Those charges cover the initial hospital stay. Many babies require follow-up care that might have been unnecessary if not for maternal drug use.
The public picks up most of the bill. Three-quarters of these newborns are covered by Medi-Cal, the state’s insurance program for the poor.
By contrast, a one-year course of drug treatment for a pregnant woman, including residential care, costs about $20,000, said Barbara Thompson, executive director of the local branch of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.
Once the drug is out of its system, if there’s been no damage in the first trimester, the fetus can be free of addiction, Thompson said. Read more…