Addicted at Birth

March 30, 2015 Abuse and Neglect Attorney

More Babies Born Addicted to Drugs

Addiction is hard – ask anyone who has ever battled to regain their freedom from an addiction, and they will tell you it is one of the hardest wars you will ever fight. And even when you’ve won, you’re still not really safe. But those whose struggle in some ways hardest, are those who never chose the drug to begin with – babies. And statistics show that there is an alarming increase in the number of babies who are born addicted to drugs.

According to statistics provided by Children’s Protective Services (CPS), the number of babies born suffering from withdrawal symptoms due to their mother’s drug addiction has increased vastly. Some studies claim a three fold increase across the nation, others say five. Either way, the numbers are frightening.

In 2008, the number of Michigan infants born addicted to drugs was 1,379. By 2013, it had risen to 3,217. Research conducted by University of Michigan physicians show that, in the United States, every hour a baby is born who will battle opiate addiction.

But because Michigan Child Protective Services policy does not define a fetus as a child, it is not legally considered to be child abuse, or a situation within the authority of CPS, when a mother is using drugs while pregnant.

That, however, changes as soon as the baby is born. Hospital workers, who are considered to be mandated reporters, are required to report to DHS any positive results from tests that show evidence of illegal or controlled substances in a newborn’s system. In fact, even if there are no test results to prove the presence of drugs, a mandated reporter would be required to contact DHS for a newborn exhibiting the symptoms of withdrawal.

In the event test results prove that the baby’s body contains traces of alcohol or drugs, CPS is required to open an investigation to determine the severity of the baby’s exposure, and whether or not they are at risk of further harm in their mother’s care.

For example, if a newborn’s exposure to controlled substances is severe enough that they need medical attention or hospitalization, and a doctor states that the infant’s physical well being is at risk, the law requires that CPS must petition the court within 24 hours to have a protective order placed over the child.

A study published by The Journal of the American Medical Association explains that it takes just over two weeks for a newborn to fully withdraw from painkiller dependency. And while that period of time is very hard, and includes such symptoms as vomiting, seizures, sweating and difficulty feeding and sleeping, it is the long term consequences that may be even more challenging.

Data collected about the long term struggles for babies born with addictions is not completely conclusive.  But on the whole, physicians agree that many of the children born with substance dependencies are more likely to be faced with developmental, medical, emotional, and behavioral concerns as they grow up.

If you or a loved one are facing the pending loss of your children due to allegations of drug abuse during pregnancy, contact us immediately. We can help.