I-Team: More babies born addicted to drugs

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Drugs have long been a problem in western Massachusetts but the I-Team discovered it’s not just addicts who deal with the physical consequences.

Springfield’s Tonya Brown admits she’s done things she’s not proud of. She said, “I knew I was getting high a couple days before I went to have my baby.”

Brown abused drugs throughout her pregnancy and went into labor early. Luckily, her baby was born healthy, but that’s not always the case.

A 22News I-Team Investigation reveals the number of babies born addicted to drugs is going up.

Baystate Medical Center released numbers to the I-Team that show the number of babies born suffering withdrawal symptoms increased steadily over the last 5 years.

Last year there were 62 babies, more than triple what it was in 2008. Doctors at Baystate say it’s more than just street and recreational drugs that can cause a baby to withdrawal.

They told the I-Team there may be things in your medicine cabinet that can have a similar effect. “Prozac, anti-depressants, even those can lead to withdrawal symptoms in the babies.”

Dr. Jeff Shenberger told the 22News I-Team, using while pregnant can have deadly consequences and if it doesn’t, withdrawal is no way for a baby to start his/her life.

“What we see in the babies is they can have feeding problems, they seem like they’re ravenous but aren’t necessarily able to take a lot in. They’re very restless and sometimes jittery,” Dr. Shenberger added.

Kim Monson is a clinical manager at The Village in Springfield that works with expectant and new moms who suffer drug addiction. She’s been working with Tonya who’s been clean for 4 months now.

While she’ll be getting custody of her baby soon, she hopes other moms hear her story and make changes before it’s too late.

“I remember my sister Aisha told me, there’s help, get it now, before it’s too late and I didn’t listen to her and now I wish I had listened to her,” Brown said. “I would say get help now, don’t do it because you will lose.”

Those numbers only cover babies born suffering withdrawal symptoms. There are more babies like Brown’s who may have been exposed but didn’t suffer any withdrawal symptoms.

Those aren’t counted in the statistics.

If you have something you’d like the I-Team to investigate, e-mail us at iteam@wwlp.com.