PUEBLO, Colo. - The number of babies born addicted to prescription drugs has increased over the last two years.
In just the first six months of 2013, 22 newborns in Pueblo were addicted compared with the two to three babies addicted in all of 2010.
Lynn Procell, director of community health services for the Pueblo City-County Health Department, said the problem became so bad at one of the hospitals in Pueblo, it ran out of nursery beds because so many babies were going through withdrawals at the same time.
For newborns, it's a painful experience. For babies it feels like pins and needles are coming out of their skin, Procell said. They cry excessively and can even have seizures. Babies wind up in the hospital anywhere from one to three months as they go through withdrawals.
Procell believes there has been an increase in babies born addicted because doctors across the country are prescribing opioids more often.
"Many of these children do end up in foster care, at least for a little while, and even foster parents have a difficult time bonding with the baby," Procell said. "Mom has a difficult time because the baby cries, and is irritable and unsoothing. You can't soothe that baby."
There can also be long-term effects on children as they grow up that can hinder their physical and mental development, according to Procell.