Unbeknownst to many, every 25 minutes, a baby is born with an existing addiction to drugs. According to a study published in the Journal of Perinatology, that amounts to somewhere around 21,000 babies every year. As is the case with any person struggling with addiction, these babies suffer severe withdrawal symptoms, a medical condition known as neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). These symptoms can show up anywhere between 24 to 72 hours of birth and can manifest in vomiting, fever, sweating, and screaming.
David Deutchman said in an interview with Healthline:
“Maybe six months ago, I was with an infant whose mother was on methamphetamine for the entire pregnancy,”
“The baby was miserable, and there’s only so much methadone that you can give them to ease their symptoms.”
Deutchman is a volunteer at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, wherein he specializes in helping babies overcome their drug addictions. One of the primary treatments for babies who are experiencing NAS is substituting another opioid into their system in gradual doses over an extended period. This is just so the babies get a chance to acclimate themselves to the diminishing opioid hits until they are no longer addicted to them.
The problem with this method is that it’s very costly, and many babies don’t have parents who can afford such measures or don’t have any parents at all. Fortunately, there is a new wave of treatment that is proving to be just as effective.
The Magic of Hugging
Over the course of treating babies with addictions, experts found that newborns could also fight off their addictions when they were held close by adults. One of the more notable campaigns that promoted this methodology was the “No Baby Unhugged” campaign that diaper brand Huggies introduced. The project was a grant program that the company funded in order to try to allow NICUs across the United States to recruit volunteers and help babies cope with their addictions. The entire program revolves around the principle of making sure that newborns always receive the appropriate amount of human touch.
Various individuals all over the country are pushing for this advocacy as well. Jane Cavanaugh was a nurse at the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital for 42 years. She also initiated her own program that enlists volunteers to partake in the ritual of holding and cuddling newborns in order to deal with their withdrawal symptoms. In an interview with Philly.com, Cavanaugh stressed the importance of babies receiving the appropriate amount of human cuddling.
“These babies going through withdrawal need to be held for extended periods. They need human touch. They need soothing. They need talking.”
The Hugging Movement
This is a trend that is becoming more prevalent in states all over the country. What do you think? Would you be eager to volunteer at a hospital yourself and give these suffering babies a much-needed hug? Comment your thoughts down below.