A daycare in Arizona cares for the youngest victims of the opioid crisis.
Hushabye Nursery, in Phoenix, treats babies with neonatal withdrawal syndrome, a withdrawal-like condition caused by opioids.
NAS develops when a baby’s mother uses drugs during pregnancy, causing her babies to become addicted to the substances.
“When you see a baby going through withdrawal, you never, ever, ever forget it,” Tara Sundem, chief executive of Hushabye Nursery, told Reuters, adding that a baby going through withdrawal due to opioid use disorder will look “like” that of an adult. withdrawal.
“The fentanyl crisis continues,” Sundem continued. “And I, I don’t know. It’s kind of one of those, it’s like, are we ever going to get a little better?
Symptoms of NAS in newborns include uncontrollable tremors, muscle tension, and shortness of breath, which appear a few days after birth.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of babies born with NAS increased 82% nationally between 2010 and 2017. In 2020, about six newborns were diagnosed with NAS for every 1,000 hospitalizations.
Babies with NAS need dark, quiet spaces that mimic the womb but are large enough for an entire family, so each of the nursery’s 12 rooms has a bed for parents and a special bassinet to soothe. to the baby.
“In the nursery we have a Snoo, which is a fancy bassinet that when the baby cries starts to move,” explained Sunem. “It will make a womb noise, a kind of quiet noise to be like mommy’s heartbeat.”
“If I hadn’t met Hushabye, I would have had no idea what NAS was,” Clarissa Collins, a recovering addict who was in Hushabye with her newborn daughter, told Reuters. “What to look for, how to take care of my baby, I had no knowledge.”
Collins is now a Peer Support Specialist at Hushabye.
Families usually stay at Hushabye for eight days, while NAS treatment can last anywhere from 1 week to 6 months.
Each room also has the overdose antidote Narcan, which everyone in Hushabye is taught to administer.
“You never know, when you’re going to have someone fight, you’re going to need this,” Sundem explained. “Even when we don’t think anyone we know does. We make. So families take it home. Even families, foster families, it’s like please take him with you. You never know. It’s that often.”
Dr. Suma Rao, a neonatologist and NICU medical director at Banner University Medical Center, said they see “a lot” of fentanyl detoxes in babies, especially since many illicit drugs are laced with the potentially deadly synthetic opioid drug.
“Fentanyl is used or abused by moms,” Rao explained. “[Often] the mother may or may not know that she has been taking this that has been mixed with fentanyl.”