A new University of New Hampshire study reveals that since 2005, the state has seen a five-fold increase in the number of babies born addicted to drugs.
The report is shining a light on the how the state’s heroin epidemic is having a devastating impact on the most innocent victims.
Inside one of the state’s only two residential treatment facilities for pregnant women, you’ll find hopes, and a growing waitlist.
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“We are serving the entire state,” said the Executive Director of Hope on Haven Hill, Courtney Tanner.
She says their eight beds have been full since the house opened last December, so she’s not at all surprised by the UNH study published Tuesday
“It is a public health crisis that we are seeing,” Tanner said.
The study’s author, UNH Professor and Family Demographer Kristin Smith, found that the number of babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome or NAS – increased fivefold – from just 52 in 2005 to 269 in 2015. That means nearly 25 of every 1,000 babies born in the state were diagnosed with a drug condition.
“I hope my numbers will help people realize the magnitude of the issue and serve as a call to action,” Smith told NBC Boston Wednesday.
Babies with NAS can go through severe withdrawal symptoms and typically stay in the hospital for at least 12 days. But Smith says, these infants will be much better off if women struggling with addiction ask for help during pregnancy.
“Mothers who are in need of inpatient treatment will benefit greatly by going to a place like Hope on Haven Hill,” Smith said.
“It’s pretty amazing to not only see a healthy baby but a healthy mom,” Tanner said.
Smith’s study is prompting an important discussion, especially at the State House, about expanding access to treatment for pregnant women.