Drug-Addicted Babies: How West Virginia Is Handling The Crisis

A new childcare center in Huntington, West Virginia is a reflection of the effects drug abuse, especially opioid abuse, have on the city, on families, and on babies. The critically-needed center already has a waiting list and is located at Cabell Huntington Hospital, the “largest hospital in West Virginia.” The hospital is known for mothers who deliver babies while using opioids. This sheds light on the larger problem at hand of American’s battle with opioid use disorders and the babies who are the victims of it.

Despite most babies being interactive and wanting a daycare environment full of things to play with, these babies are more sensitive and require the opposite to heal. Because of the baby’s sensitivity, the care they need has caused some staff of other facilities to kick them out. The lack of knowledge of what these babies need causes some staff members to feel frustrated. As a result, babies are turned away.

Giving Babies What They Need Most

Roughly 1 out of 5 babies is born to a mother who abuses or has abused opioids, and they are in need of a center offering specialized care. This need led to the Cabell Huntington Hospital creating a center catering to the needs of such babies. Here, babies suffering Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) receive unique care, like silence, no colors and little to no toys. NAS produces symptoms like fevers, tremors, stuffiness, drug cravings, high-pitched screaming, and several others.

Many of the center’s mothers were taking either prescription opioids like Codeine, Oxycodone, Tramadol, Morphine and Hydrocodone  or illicit opioids like Heroin and Fentanyl while pregnant. These powerful substances transfer into the mother’s milk and into the baby’s system. Once the baby has had a small exposure to opioids, it is enough to create a dependence in the body of the baby, along with withdrawal symptoms. The center is a government-supported center, with 8 babies who receive hands-on care; 6 who exposed to opioids and 2, methamphetamines. According to sources, the babies may have been exposed to other drugs.

Paid Advertising. We receive advertising fees from purchases through the BetterHelp links below.

Online Addiction Counseling

Get professional help from an online addiction and mental health counselor from BetterHelp.

Get Matched
Begin Therapy
  • Personalized Matching Process
  • Easy Online Scheduling
  • 30,000+ Licensed Therapists


A Growing Interest Fuels More Focus On Financial Aid

The center has room for 8 more babies, but faces financial challenges paying for staffing. Despite these problems, the center’s unique method of hands-on care and small amount of children they help is paying off. Staff members noticed babies once seizing and crying, are now calm and smiling. Babies with tense, stiff muscles receive massages to help them relax.

Mothers who need treatment can focus on getting treatment. Additionally, babies can get treatment early on while children heal in daycares or attend foster care. Being proactive and taking needed steps to help babies reduce and eliminate NAS is key. If babies can reduce or eliminate symptoms before they start school, this is best. If symptoms of NAS go untreated, they can create difficult learning problems which can complicate the lives of the baby. Despite difficulty with attaining financial aid, staff members are seeking to raise money in order to afford treating more babies.

The alternatives to this center show the desperation that the issue of drug-addicted babies is causing. As a result of being kicked out of daycares as well as maternal substance abuse, many children live with grandparents. In order to combat the negligence of companies,  some grandparents are suing pharmaceutical companies for punitive damages caused by parental opioid abuse. Alternatively, other children are sent to foster care.

Last Updated:


Krystina Murray

Photo of Krystina Murray
  • Krystina Murray has received a B.A. in English at Georgia State University, has over 5 years of professional writing and editing experience, and over 15 years of overall writing experience. She enjoys traveling, fitness, crafting, and spreading awareness of addiction recovery to help people transform their lives.

  • More from Krystina Murray