UPDATED: Thursday, May 3, 2012 - 10:43am
WACO -- Dr. Wheeler has been a neonatologist for 22 years and he says while the number of babies born with a drug addiction brought on by the mother hasn't changed, the type of drug has.
"We've seen drug addiction for 22 years here in Waco, Texas.Most of them 20 years ago were cocaine. That has kind of evolved to crack cocaine, methamphetamine and prescription drugs now," he said.
When a mother is pregnant and addicted to prescription drugs, the fetus will ultimately become addicted too, causing Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome or simply put, withdrawals once it's born.
"The brain is forming from just a few cells to many cells and if it's under the influence of drugs, it may not form 100 percent right."
Withdrawal symptoms may include:
"jittery, fussy, poor feeding, to the most extreme withdrawal is going to be seizure activity."
And though Dr. Wheeler says they will resolve, the real damage is seen in the long-term effects.
"A lot of these kids will have school problems. attention deficit disorder, hyper activity, poor learning, not doing well in school."
At one point, about 10 percent of all babies being born at Hillcrest were exposed to drugs.
Though not all of them needed treatment.
"All babies that have Abstinence Syndrome don't have to be treated. They may be very mild and not need any medical therapy at all. But they still have that risk when they grow up of having problems in school."