State Rep Minjarez To Visit Baptist Medical Center NICU

Oct 17, 2018

Acclaimed Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome program addresses opioid addiction in moms and babies

District 124 State Representative Ina Minjarez will visit Baptist Medical Center (BMC) Thursday to learn firsthand about the hospital’s Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) program, which is helping moms and their babies who are born addicted to drugs. The NAS program at Baptist Medical Center has garnered national acclaim for its successes.

San Antonio has more NAS babies than Houston and Dallas combined. Thanks to the NAS program at BMC as many as, 85% of mothers accept treatment that helps them on their way to becoming productive members of society. Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU) director Susie Aldous has been honored by the Texas Department of State Health Services for her efforts to help addicted moms and their babies born with NAS. She and NICU Medical Director John Isaac, M.D. have spoken across the country to help other NICU programs in their efforts to deal with the increasing problem of opioid addiction.

In the past, opiate addicted mothers struggling with addiction were shunned. The NICU team would run in and “rescue” the baby from its “horrible” mother. If the mother came to visit the baby, the nursing staff was often judgmental of the mom and did not promote mother/infant bonding. Child Protective Services would remove the infant from the mother’s care and oftentimes the mother would return to the street and drug use. This cycle of depression would grow deeper and so would her addiction. Routinely these mothers would be back in less than a year, having another baby that needed to be medically withdrawn, and the cycle continuing year after year.

The NICU team at Baptist Medical Center has made it their mission to change how these moms are treated. Today hospital staff see the mother as a partner, not a drug addict. Part of the plan included stopping the usage of words “drug babies” and “drug addicts” to change the misconceptions about the drug addicted mothers and their babies. Babies stay with their mothers for bonding if they are enrolled in a methadone program. Moms are more engaged and stay longer with their babies in the NICU. Breastfeeding rates have risen and length of stay has decreased.

During the tour, Representative Minjarez learned about the many aspects of the NAS program that are helping to address the opioid addiction problem for moms and their newborns.

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