WOODBURY - Pregnant women addicted to heroin can expose their unborn children to the toxic drug, health officials say. According to health officials, as soon as a baby is born, their heroin supply is cut off and they can go through withdrawal. One Long Island woman shares her story in this News 12 Long Island special, "Born Addicted."
Christine, 32, has a 13-year-old daughter and 3-year-old and 2-year-old sons. She says she started using pills in her 20s, at first just for fun. She eventually starting using heroin, and realized she couldn't stop. She says she found out she was pregnant in active addiction and didn't know what to do.
Christine wanted to stop, so she checked herself into a rehab. According to Christine, doctors told her the best option was to go on methadone so her baby wouldn't go through withdrawals while in the womb. She says she gave birth to her 3-year-old son Jayden two months early through an emergency C-section. She adds she was very scared about what would happen to her child due to her addiction.
Christine reflects, and says she knew there was a better way and treatment was available. She knew she might risk losing her children, but says she knew if she did the right thing, she would get her children back -- and she did. She's clean a little over a year now. She says she's grateful not to be living the lifestyle of an addict anymore.
Christine's story is not uncommon. According to a nurse practitioner at Stony Brook Hospital, the rate of opioid-exposed babies is growing. In 2010, the hospital saw 80 cases, whereas in 2014, that number grew to 140. The nurse says Stony Brook has a comfort plan of how to proceed with care for infants born addicted.
According to the state's Department of Health, the number of babies born in Suffolk addicted to opioids rose 105 percent from 2009 to 2014 to 171 infants. In Nassau, the number rose 60 percent to 53 infants. Health officials say in 2014 statewide, there were 1,656 babies born addicted.