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Number of drug-addicted babies growing in Tennessee

Recent data released by the Tennessee Department of Health reports a significant rise in the number of newborns addicted to drugs. The government agency reports that there have already been 643 drug-addicted babies born this year, which is more than the 629 born in the entirety of 2011. State health officials expect this number to rise to over 800 by the end of the year.

Most of the drug-addicted babies born in Tennessee's hospitals are not dependent on crack or cocaine that was common in the 1990s. Due to the rise in prescription drug abuse around state and the country, these newborns have a chemical dependency to substances like oxycodone, hydrocodone or morphine. The majority of the mothers who took these pills during pregnancy had a prescription from a doctor. 

"We've changed drugs again," said Dr. Gary Bell, a neonatalogist, to the Chattanoga Times Free Press. "We're not seeing the same ratio of babies on crack [cocaine] that we used to see. We're seeing many more babies on narcotics, and I think we will see a lot more."

According to Dr. Bell, withdrawal from narcotics can be painful and intolerable for infants. They can have tremors, cramps and seizures in addition to not eating and having severe tremors. 

The demographics of the mothers who bear a child addicted to drugs are shifting, Dr. Bell told the source. While some were drug addicts, others were treating pain as directed by a physician. State officials recommend that doctors spend more time counseling their patients about preventing pregnancy while on a prescription pain medication regimen. 

Drug addiction can impact more people than you think. Is someone you love is dependent on painkillers, contact Intervention Services today. We can connect you to a professional interventionist who can provide you with the tools to help your friend or relative enter an effective treatment program. 

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