Delaware County Medicine & Health Winter 2017 - 8

FEATURE

collateral
damage

The Forgotten Victims of the Opiate Crisis

By: Jessica Small, MD, Third Year Pediatric Resident, Crozer Chester Medical Center (CCMC) and June Elcock-Messam, MD, FAAP
Child Abuse Pediatrician, Media Pediatrics and Clinical Director, Child Protection Program @ CCMC

I

t is impossible to turn on
the television or to open a
newspaper today and not read
about or hear about the opiate
crisis. Every August 31st, a global
event is held to raise awareness
of drug overdoses and to assist in
reducing the stigma of drug-related
deaths - The International Overdose
Awareness Day (IOAD). We are urged
to wear silver for the day to show
our support and to raise awareness
of this tragedy. We read about the
Certified	Recovery	Specialist	Program	
in Delaware County, a program that
was created to provide support for
addicts and overdose survivors if they
are ready to receive help (610-7132384).		We	read	about	first	responders	
and	police	officers	proudly	reporting	
how many lives they have saved with
Narcan and we celebrate with them
because they have saved a life and that
is what we strive to do every day as
physicians.		Our	financial	resources,	
numerous community organizations
and public awareness programs are all
geared towards the adult victims of
this crisis and unfortunately, too often
against the advice of physicians and
loved ones, these victims choose not to
accept these services. There are many
silent victims of this opiate epidemic.
Today we would like to speak loudly
on behalf of one subset of these
victims - KIDS. As pediatricians,
we would like to bring your attention
to society's most vulnerable citizens
-	our	children,	specifically	our	drug	

6

addicted infants. What is happening
to babies born to drug addicted and
drug dependent mothers? Have you
ever heard of Neonatal Abstinence
Syndrome (NAS)?
Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome
(NAS) is the medical term for a group
of problems babies experience when
withdrawing from in-utero exposure
to narcotics. Many drugs that a mother
takes pass from the mother's blood
stream through the placenta to the
fetus. Illicit and prescribed substances
that cause drug dependence and
addiction in the mother can also
cause the fetus to become addicted.
At birth, the baby's dependence on
the substance continues; however,
since the drug is no longer available,
the baby's central nervous system
becomes overstimulated causing the
symptoms of withdrawal (http://
www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/
default?id=neonatal-abstinencesyndrome-90-P02387).

DELAWARE COUNTY MEDICINE & HEALTH

winter 2017

Do you know that it is now
estimated that one drug addicted
infant is born every 25 minutes in
the United States (J Pediatr. 2015
December; 167(6): 1189-1191)?
What a frightening statistic and we
don't ever hear about these children
outside of the hospital setting
because these victims do not have
a voice. Do you know that NAS is
the most important predictor of
hospital admissions for maltreatment,
mental and behavioral disorders, even
after accounting for prematurity,
maternal age and Indigenous status?
(PEDIATRICS Volume 136, Number
4, October 2015). In fact, maternal
substance abuse is one of the leading
preventable causes of mental, physical
and psychological problems in infants
and children in the United States
today. NAS infants currently make up
the majority of the pediatric inpatient
census at Crozer Chester Medical
Center (CCMC) - approximately 75
cases per year over the last few years.
We cannot afford to continue to deny
the existence of these children and
ignore them after they are successfully
weaned off of drugs and discharged
from the hospital.


http://http:// http://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Delaware County Medicine & Health Winter 2017

Delaware County Medicine & Health Winter 2017 - 1
Delaware County Medicine & Health Winter 2017 - 2
Delaware County Medicine & Health Winter 2017 - 3
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Delaware County Medicine & Health Winter 2017 - 5
Delaware County Medicine & Health Winter 2017 - 6
Delaware County Medicine & Health Winter 2017 - 7
Delaware County Medicine & Health Winter 2017 - 8
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Delaware County Medicine & Health Winter 2017 - 24
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