Breaking News
November 18, 2018 - Risk factors for cardiovascular disease closely track with changes in diet patterns
November 18, 2018 - Biogen Scoops Sixth Prix Galien Award with UK Win for Life-Changing Rare Disease Medicine
November 18, 2018 - Detectable HIV-1 in treated human liver cells found to be inert
November 18, 2018 - Using light to control crucial step in embryonic development
November 18, 2018 - Unusual case of father-to-son HIV transmission reported
November 18, 2018 - FDA Approves Aemcolo (rifamycin) to Treat Travelers’ Diarrhea
November 18, 2018 - Poverty blamed on widening north-south gap in young adult deaths in England
November 18, 2018 - Progress in meningitis lags far behind other vaccine-preventable diseases, analysis shows
November 18, 2018 - Consensus Statement Issued on Management of Foot, Ankle Gout
November 18, 2018 - Fine particle air pollution is a public health emergency hiding in plain sight
November 18, 2018 - In-hospital mortality higher among patients with drug-resistant infections
November 17, 2018 - Research shines new, explanatory light on link between obesity and cancer
November 17, 2018 - FIND explores new diagnostic assays for confirmatory HCV diagnosis in community settings
November 17, 2018 - Tracking Preemies’ Head Size May Yield IQ Clues
November 17, 2018 - Scientists call for unified standards in 3-D genome and epigenetic data
November 17, 2018 - Lab Innovations 2018 has beaten all records by attracting 3,113 attendees
November 17, 2018 - Sexuality education before age 18 may reduce risk of sexual assault in college
November 17, 2018 - New model of FSHD could be useful to study effectiveness of experimental therapeutics
November 17, 2018 - FDA approves antibacterial drug to treat travelers’ diarrhea
November 17, 2018 - Lab Innovations 2018 confirmed as a major hit with visitors, exhibitors and speakers
November 17, 2018 - Largest parasitic worm genetic study hatches novel treatment possibilities
November 17, 2018 - UCLA biologists uncover how head injuries can lead to serious brain disorders
November 17, 2018 - Static and dynamic physical activities offer varying protection against heart disease
November 17, 2018 - Obesity significantly increases risk of Type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease
November 17, 2018 - People with rare cancers can benefit from genomic profiling, shows research
November 17, 2018 - NIH awards over $1.8 million to husband-and-wife doctors to test new breast cancer approach
November 17, 2018 - Four-in-one antibody used to fight flu shows promise in mice
November 17, 2018 - New approach allows pathogens to be starved by blocking important enzymes
November 17, 2018 - Higher body mass index could cause depression even without health problems
November 17, 2018 - Protein which plays role in sensing cell damage serves as new target to treat pulmonary hypertension
November 17, 2018 - FDA Approves Adcetris (brentuximab vedotin) in Combination with Chemotherapy for Adults with Previously Untreated Systemic Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma or Other CD30-Expressing Peripheral T-Cell Lymphomas
November 17, 2018 - ID specialist input improves outcomes for outpatient parenteral antimicrobial therapy
November 17, 2018 - UT Southwestern scientists selected to receive 2019 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Awards
November 17, 2018 - New clinical algorithm to help individuals manage type 2 diabetes when fasting during Ramadan
November 17, 2018 - Researchers identify LZTR1 as evolutionarily conserved component of RAS pathway
November 17, 2018 - Heart Disease Leading Cause of Death in Low-Income Counties
November 17, 2018 - Estrogen Levels Test: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information
November 17, 2018 - Research reveals link between immunity, diabetes
November 17, 2018 - Research shows how to achieve improved smoking cessation outcomes within California’s Medicaid population
November 17, 2018 - New study finds less understanding and implementation of patient engagement
November 17, 2018 - New shoe insole technology could help diabetic ulcers heal better while walking
November 17, 2018 - New method to extend cell division and immortalization of avian-derived cells
November 17, 2018 - Australian Academy of Science urges parents to vaccinate children against meningococcal disease
November 17, 2018 - Hot water treatment may help improve inflammation and metabolism in sedentary people
November 17, 2018 - Researchers produce 3D chemical maps of small biological samples
November 17, 2018 - Must Blood Pressure Rise Wth Age? Remote Tribes Hold Clues
November 17, 2018 - Noonan Syndrome
November 17, 2018 - Interventions to delay and prevent type 2 diabetes are underused, researchers say
November 17, 2018 - Hackathon prize winner seeks to remotely monitor patient skin conditions
November 17, 2018 - Research team identifies Ashkenazi Jewish founder mutation for Leigh syndrome
November 17, 2018 - Gene editing could be used to halt kidney disease in patients with Joubert syndrome
November 17, 2018 - Study uncovers link between gut disruption and aging
November 17, 2018 - Teens more likely to pick up smoking after exposure from friends and family
November 17, 2018 - Nicoya designate the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine as the OpenSPR Centre of Excellence
November 17, 2018 - new horizon in dental, oral and craniofacial research
November 17, 2018 - How does poor air quality affect your health?
November 17, 2018 - New device can regulate children’s blood glucose more like natural pancreas
November 17, 2018 - Game-Changers in Western Blotting and Protein Analysis
November 17, 2018 - FDA announces new actions to limit sale of e-cigarettes to youth
November 17, 2018 - Warmer winter temperatures related to higher crime rates
November 17, 2018 - MCO places increasing emphasis on helping people find and access healthy food
November 17, 2018 - Group of students aim to improve malaria diagnosis using old smartphones
November 17, 2018 - Transplantation of feces may protect preterm children from deadly bowel disease
November 17, 2018 - Researchers explore whether low-gluten diets can be recommended for people without allergies
November 17, 2018 - New and better marker for assessing patients after cardiac arrest
November 17, 2018 - For 7-year-old with failing bone marrow, a life-saving transplant | News Center
November 17, 2018 - New first-line treatment for peripheral T-cell lymphoma approved by FDA
November 17, 2018 - Artificial intelligence could be valuable tool to help young victims disclose traumatic testimony
November 17, 2018 - Breakthrough in the treatment of Restless Legs Syndrome
November 16, 2018 - FDA Approves Keytruda (pembrolizumab) for the Treatment of Patients with Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) Who Have Been Previously Treated with Sorafenib
November 16, 2018 - Eagle Books | Native Diabetes Wellness Program
November 16, 2018 - Patients with common heart failure more likely to have lethal heart rhythms
November 16, 2018 - How AI could help veterinarians code their notes | News Center
November 16, 2018 - Bias-based bullying does more harm to students than generalized bullying
November 16, 2018 - Researchers find first direct evidence that cerebellum plays role in cognitive functions
November 16, 2018 - Non-coding genetic variant plays key role in endothelial function and disease incidence
November 16, 2018 - EMA recommends first all-oral treatment to tackle deadly sleeping sickness
November 16, 2018 - Drug used to treat dizziness may slow down growth of triple-negative breast cancer
November 16, 2018 - AHA: Icosapent Ethyl Cuts CV Risk From Elevated Triglycerides
November 16, 2018 - ‘Orphan’ RNAs make cancer deadlier, but potentially easier to diagnose
Babies dependent on opioids need touch, not tech

Babies dependent on opioids need touch, not tech

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print

Dr. Jodi Jackson has worked for years to address infant mortality in Kansas. Often, that means she treats newborns in a high-tech neonatal intensive care unit with sophisticated equipment whirring and beeping. And that is exactly the wrong place for an infant like Lili.

Lili’s mother, Victoria, used heroin for the first two-thirds of her pregnancy and hated herself for it.

“When you are in withdrawal, you feel your baby that’s in withdrawal too,” said Victoria, recalling sensations during her pregnancy. (Kaiser Health News is using her first name only because she has used illegal drugs.) “You feel your baby uncomfortable inside of you, and you know that. And then you use and then the baby’s not [uncomfortable], and that’s a really awful, vulgar thought, but it’s true. That’s how it is. It’s terrible.”

Though Victoria went into recovery before giving birth, Lili was born dependent on the methadone Victoria took to treat her opioid addiction. Treatment for infants like Lili has evolved, Jackson said.

“What happened 10, 15 years ago, is [drug-dependent] babies were immediately removed from the mom, and they were put in an ICU warmer with bright lights with nobody holding them,” said Jackson, who is a neonatologist at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo. “Of course, they are going to be upset about that! And so the risk of withdrawal is much higher.”

Jackson now leads a statewide effort to get hospitals in Kansas to use the science-based treatment methods for neonatal abstinence syndrome, as the condition is formally known. The symptoms include high-pitched screams, clenched muscles and trouble sleeping. The treatment involves keeping mothers and their infants together in the hospital, making sure babies are held and comforted, and providing opioids as needed in decreasing quantities to ease the baby’s symptoms until she can be weaned off of them.

It’s estimated that around 2 percent of infants are now born drug-dependent. In areas gripped by the opioid crisis, the rate is even higher.

The low-tech, high-touch treatment approach that Lili received in the first weeks of her life is one that health experts encourage hospitals everywhere to adopt as they grapple with increasing numbers of infants born with drug dependencies.

In many parts of the state, Jackson said, she’s starting from scratch.

“Many hospitals have no standard of practice. No standard approach,” Jackson said.

But improving outcomes for opioid-dependent babies will probably take more than just educating hospital staff.

Dr. Elisha Wachman, who is a neonatalogist at Boston Medical Center and teaches pediatrics at Boston University, said that providing this kind of care is a big adjustment for many hospitals.

“It really depends on the capacity of the hospital and where they house the babies for monitoring,” Wachman said. “Some of them don’t have room for the mothers to stay with the babies.”

Compounding the problem, the matter of exactly what are the “best practices” is far from settled.

For example, new research suggests that methadone may be a better recovery drug for newborns than morphine, which Wachman said is most often used, even though doctors are still unsure about morphine’s long-term effects.

“There are very few high-quality clinical trials that have been done in this population of infants,” Wachman said. “If you can imagine, this is an incredibly difficult population to study. To do a randomized, controlled trial, for instance, of opiates and neonates is incredibly challenging.”

Jackson acknowledged the challenges, but she said establishing consistent practices based on what doctors do know is an important first step toward getting answers.

Victoria said she did everything she could to help newborn Lili get healthy in the hospital, with no idea whether they’d be together in the long term.

“I was trying not to be connected with her, because, I thought, they’re probably going to take her,” Victoria said. “I haven’t been clean that long. So I was trying to not, like, be in love with her. But I was so in love with her.” Lili is her fourth child.

Victoria has continued to show state officials that she is committed to staying off drugs. She has been allowed to raise Lili at Amethyst Place, a recovery home in Kansas City.

Lili is now a 16-month-old girl who shares her mother’s blond hair, bright eyes and big smile. Despite her difficult start in life, the toddler is in good health, and her mom has been drug-free for a more than a year and a half.

This story is part of a partnership that includes KCUR, NPR and Kaiser Health News.

KHN’s coverage of children’s health care issues is supported in part by the Heising-Simons Foundation.

Kaiser Health NewsThis article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles