By Rick Sallinger

DENVER (CBS4) – Drug addiction to opioids is a national problem. When women drug abusers become pregnant the addiction can be handed down to the most innocent of victims, their unborn children.

For Colorado babies, opioid addiction is up 83% over a five year period. But, to read the figures is not enough to grasp the problem.

CBS4 met with one mother and her new daughter to show what they are up against.

36 hours after she entered into this world Saya Hoggatt started feeling the effects of her mother’s drug use. Tremors and shrill cries as she went through opioid withdrawal.

babies Drug Users Can Pass Down Addiction To Unborn Children

(credit: CBS)

Her mother’s drug horrors led to Saya’s difficult start in life. Shelby Gonzales of Colorado Springs ticked off, like a shopping list, the drugs she poured into her body.

“Oxycodone, Dilaudid, morphine, fentanyl, Vicodin, the heroin obviously, “she told CBS4 investigator Rick Sallinger.

babies 2 Drug Users Can Pass Down Addiction To Unborn Children

(credit: CBS)

She says that turn to heroin was to help afford her out of control drug habit.

“Here in Colorado one pill $30 and getting three that’s really crazy,” she explained.

When Shelby learned she was pregnant, she immediately switched to legal methadone to reduce cravings. Now like her mother, Saya is taking it too.

She was born at At UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central in Colorado Springs one of many hospitals where opioid babies are too common.

Their first home becomes the neonatal intensive care unit. Here Dr. Pastora Garcia-Jones says there is a big change taking place.

babies 3 Drug Users Can Pass Down Addiction To Unborn Children

Dr. Pastora Garcia-Jones speaks with CBS4’s Rick Sallinger. (credit: CBS)

So it is hugs instead of drugs to soothe the baby. The doctor sees it working as well as or better than medication which is still sometimes needed.

The babies emerge from withdrawal in a matter of weeks or months if treated.

Shelby Gonzales is urging other opioid mothers to be to seek help.

“They are giving birth in bathtubs because afraid to go to the hospital going to get arrested or baby taken immediately,” she said.

But the outcome can be better. For those like Saya who receive treatment the success rate is 100%, as mother and daughter can go through withdrawal together.

CBS4’s Rick Sallinger is a Peabody award-winning reporter who has been with the station more than two decades doing hard news and investigative reporting. Follow him on Twitter @ricksallinger.

Comments
  1. Ann Pirie says:

    How is this not important to a pregnant woman is beyond my realm. Think of your baby and give it the best possible chance in life, all the way through it.

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