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Horry County leads state in number of babies born addicted to drugs in 2017

Updated: Mar. 27, 2019 at 5:28 PM EDT
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HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - The 15th Circuit Solicitors Office has 60 cases currently pending for child neglect and distribution charges that stem from babies born addicted to drugs, according to solicitor Jimmy Richardson.

“It would shock you the percentages of people that have children that have drugs in their system. Maybe not so much that they would be addicted to the drugs, but a lot of children are born with drugs in their system," Richardson said.

The South Carolina Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office said 24 babies were born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) in 2017 in Horry County, topping the entire state of South Carolina for that year.

Kathy Wade, the clinical coordinator of pediatrics and newborn at Conway Medical Center, said she sees two to three babies born with NAS each week.

“It’s very difficult to watch. It’s very difficult to have a newborn you can’t sooth so you just have to be really patient and loving," Wade said.

Doctors look at how newborns eat, sleep and they take the mother’s history into account when trying to determine if a child is born with NAS, according to Wade.

“It’s not always illegal drugs. Sometimes it’s drugs that the mother has been prescribed to treat a drug addiction," Wade said.

Wade said depending on how long symptoms last, babies typically stay in the care of Conway Medical Center ranging from one week to one month until the symptoms of NAS go away.

“They will go home with a safety plan so that mom has somebody safe and capable of taking care of a newborn that can help with the baby," Wade said, “Our goal is not to separate them from their baby. It’s to try to help the mom and the baby so they can be together and get past this addiction and keep the baby safe. We definitely want mom and baby to be together.”

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