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Born Addicted: The Smallest Victims of the Opioid Crisis


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America’s opioid crisis has become known throughout the country as the “epidemic of epidemics.” In 2016, alone, opioid overdoses claimed 64,000 lives, a number greater than the entire death toll during the Vietnam War. The suffering undergone by addicts and their families is immense. Yet, the most innocent sufferers are the ones who are the smallest, most fragile, and most innocent: babies born to opioid-addicted mothers and who are addicted, themselves.

Opioid Epidemic Evident in Newborn Units

This country’s opioid epidemic is painfully evident in hospital newborn units across the country. In 2012 nearly 22,000 babies were born drug dependent, one every 25 minutes. In more recent years, the number has jumped to one every 19 minutes. In fact, the number of children needing intensive treatment has become so overwhelming that hospitals, such as Niswonger Children’s Hospital in Tennessee, have opened new wards just to care for them.

Effects of Opioid Addiction in Babies

Opioid-addicted babies go through the same withdrawals as anyone-they sweat, vomit, and go through bouts of feeling violently ill. Further, based on observation and maternal reports, methadone-exposed infants have been found to exhibit increased motor rigidity, dysregulated motor patterns, and decreased overall activity. These issues were present in toddlerhood and were associated with less social responsivity, shorter attention spans, and poorer social engagement. The long-term effects are still unknown, although the signs all point to permanent symptoms.

Concomitant with lawsuits on behalf of the addicts, families are also starting to file lawsuits on behalf of these tiny victims. In one lawsuit, the family of a baby born addicted to opioids filed suit against 20 pharmaceutical companies, accusing the companies of being negligent and responsible for the “excruciating pain” the baby experienced as he was weaned from his opioid addiction, inherited from his mother.

If you or your loved one has been hurt by the opioid crisis, Reich & Binstock, can help you secure the full and fair compensation you deserve. Our attorneys have over 30 years of experience, and we are here to help you. Please call us in Houston at 713-622-7271 or 800-622-7271 toll free or email us to schedule a free and confidential consultation with an experienced attorney.

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