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Babies born on drugs | Local News

It’s not information to native health care suppliers that Niagara County has the very best variety of drug-addicted newborns in New York state. 

Niagara maternity professionals who welcome infants into the world have seen an growing variety of youngsters born to moms on drugs within the area over the previous few years.  

The New York State Health Department statistics, collected between 2012 and 2014, present that roughly 341 infants have been born with a drug habit in Niagara County throughout that interval, infants also known as “drug-addicted newborns.” That quantity was the very best of any county within the state. 

But “drug addicted” is a stigma that Maryann Cogdill doesn’t like to connect to infants.

Cogdill, the director of maternity providers at Mount St. Mary’s Hospital in Lewiston prefers the phrases “chemically exposed” in reference to newborns born with drugs of their system.

“To say that these babies are addicted does not inspire hope in the mother and fathers,” Cogdill stated.

Both Mount St. Mary’s and Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center have packages in place for infants born to moms utilizing drugs.

Newborns sometimes start displaying signs of withdrawal in 24 to 48 hours, Cogdill stated. 

Some of the signs embrace high-pitched squealing, bicycle movement of the ft, jerking and shaking, tremors, rigidity, and typically there are digestive points.  

Although some hospitals use drugs to abate the worst of the signs, Mount St. Mary’s does a non-pharmacological intervention or it transfers the infant to Women and Children’s Hospital in Buffalo for extra in depth remedy.

“We swaddle the baby,” Cogdill defined. “We keep the baby in a quiet area,” noting, “We choose a formula that breaks down easier.” 

She additionally provides, “Basically we’re holding the babies for 24 hours.”

Holding helps a lot that Mount St. Mary’s plans to start a program referred to as the Cuddler Program in July, the place educated volunteers will rock the infants for hours on finish.


Both NFMMC and Mount St. Mary’s even have packages to help the mothers in some ways.

In July, a drug referred to as Suboxone will as soon as once more be out there within the Niagara area via a brand new program at Mount St. Mary’s, to assist moms with opioid dependency. The drug, which relieves signs, was just lately solely out there in Erie County after a supplier closed within the Niagara area. Having the drug out there regionally is necessary to pregnant mothers in search of assist who typically have points with journey, Cogdill stated. 

“You can’t just shut off the mom’s addiction,” she defined, noting a risk the child might die in utero if the mom goes by way of withdrawals.

“During pregnancy, it’s better to be on Suboxone than to be actively using drugs. There’s less harm to the baby,” she stated.

At Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, there are packages that have a tendency to each facet of a lady’s wants. The hope is that extra native women might be drawn into the community of encompassing care, based on Sarah Obot, program coordinator of the P3 Center for Teens, Moms and Kids, referencing her program’s and the hospital’s Health Home case administration program.

“The case management program focuses on women’s health in general, from family planning to pregnancy and parenting, so that a woman has everything she might need,” stated Obot.

Needs may embrace something from health care to health insurance coverage and extra urgent issues comparable to housing, meals and employment.

Anything a lady must look after herself and her youngsters is addressed, Obot stated. The program reaches out to drug-using moms as nicely.  

“My staff screens all mothers who deliver at the hospital, whether enrolled in our program or not,” she stated. “We will see them day before or day of the birth and we will ask them if they need anything.”

Her employees takes additional time with the mothers who seem to have drug points. 

“We ask them to work with us and we’ll take it from there. Whether its counseling, treatment, visits, we’ll be in touch with them,” she added.

From January to May of this yr there have been 125 births on the hospital and of these, 25 infants had drug-related points, she stated. 

Both hospital spokespeople say that within the case of moms who resist remedy, Child Protective Services could also be referred to as in. But, when the mom agrees to hunt assist, packages are in place to help each the mothers and the infants. 


Both hospitals work in collaboration with the Niagara County Opioid Task Force, which was shaped a number of years in the past to boost drug consciousness and group involvement, and to fight statistics in New York state which present that, like the complete nation, opiate and heroin use is on the rise.  

Laura Kelemen, director of the Niagara County Department of Mental Health, which oversees the duty pressure, stated there are not any easy solutions to the issues of drug habit. Her division, accountable by state regulation to supervise the service system offered to residents with psychological health points, together with drug habit, stated her division’s focus is to broaden remedy, accessibility and prevention providers. 

Some of her accomplishments since she took the directorship in 2014 embrace including simply accessible substance abuse remedies in division workplaces in Lockport and Niagara Falls. There are open-access hours these looking for remedy with out appointment Monday by way of Friday and a 24-hour hotline at 285-3515. 

“Our goal is to prevent newborns from being exposed to drugs in utero by expanding drug treatment options in Niagara County as well as addressing stigma through our public awareness campaign,” Kelemen stated. 

Kelemen stated the issue is complicated points.

“There’s no simple answer,’ Kelemen said. “We have a really high rate of teenage and young mom pregnancies but we are just as impacted as other counties in New York by the opiate crisis.”

Then there’s the stigma of habit. “Any addiction is a physical-based illness,” Kelemen stated, “or it has a component that has a physical base to it but our society looks at people who are addicted as they are choosing this. As if they are bad people.”


Mount St. Mary’s Cogdill says that her maternity sufferers, about 20 % of whom have habit points, come from all walks of life.

“This opioid addiction draws no line and it takes all,” she stated. “This is not the down-and-out … they’re not the ones we’re seeing. I’m seeing the ones that are coming and getting the care they need and I applaud them because they are thinking of someone other than themselves.” 

Judging the drug doesn’t assist anybody, stated Cogdill, it solely will increase the stigma that makes many drug addicts reluctant to get assist. 

“I learned a long time ago, you don’t really help anyone if you judge people,” she stated. “It could be anyone of us, it could be our family or friends. I think you only cut people off when you make those kinds of judgments.”


Contact Michele DeLuca at 282-2311, ext. 2263 or e mail her at

Call the Niagara County Crisis Services 24-hour hotline at 285-3515.

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