RU Texas The Beat

San Antonio Docs Using "Kangaroo Care" to Help Addicted Newborn Babies

[fa icon="calendar'] Dec 22, 2016 11:38:07 AM / by RU Texas posted in Recovery, NAS, Addiction, Treatment, Withdrawl, Newborns

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Like the rest of the country, Texas is in the midst of a fierce and tragic drug addiction epidemic. It is not news to anyone living in the lone star state who have been affected by addiction that drugs like meth, opioids and cocaine are devastating public health issues with the power to end lives and destroy families. One group of casualties commonly affected by the disease of addiction is newborn babies born to vulnerable mothers. A research project in San Antonio, Texas, is aiming to ease the suffering of these babies and their mothers during this urgent and incredibly difficult time.

Prescription opioid addiction is affecting more and more newborns in San Antonio. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, about 400 drug dependent babies are born in Bexar County each year. That’s one-third of all the cases in Texas. When a baby is born addicted, first early stages of life incredibly difficult and even impede natural development. It also leaves guilt-ridden mothers vulnerable to crippling emotional distress and mental illness as they’re confronted with what addiction has done to them. The withdrawal process can last days, weeks, even a couple of agonizing months. The medical term for the condition is Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome or NAS.

Physicians at the San Antonio’s U.T. Health Science Center are utilizing a method called kangaroo care to help babies more comfortably overcome their withdrawal periods. Kangaroo care is a method of holding a baby that involves skin-to-skin contact. The baby, who is naked except for a diaper and a piece of cloth covering his or her back (either a receiving blanket or the parent's clothing), is placed in an upright position against a parent's bare chest. Some of the immediate health benefits include:

  • Stabilization of the baby's heart rate
  • Improved (more regular) breathing pattern
  • Improved oxygen saturation levels
  • Increase in sleep time
  • Accelerated weight gain
  • Decreased crying
  • More successful breastfeeding episodes

Kangaroo care was first developed in he 1970s in response to the high mortality rate of premature babies born abroad. Researchers found that babies who were held close to their mothers' bodies for large portions of the day not only survived, but thrived. The method soon made its way to the United States where it is utilized in a variety of cases. In a state in which opioid dependency and other forms of drug addiction are becoming an increasingly common reality, another medical intervention to help affected infants can only help save lives. 

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Bunavail to Be Covered Under Texas Medicaid Program

[fa icon="calendar'] Oct 25, 2016 10:28:49 PM / by RU Texas posted in Treatment, Suboxone, Buprenorphine, Withdrawl, Bunavail

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Fotolia_99228708_M.jpgIf you or someone you care about are living in Texas and currently struggling with opioid addiction, you may have access to a new medication resources to combat cravings and withdrawal symptoms. The state’s Medicaid program has announced that it will be approving the anti-opioid drug Bunavail starting January 1, 2017. A product of North Carolina-based BioDelivery Sciences International, Bunavail is a combination buprenorphine and naloxone. It comes in the form of a citrus-flavored sublingual film. Similar to Suboxone, the drug has been increasingly effective in treating the perils and rigors of long-term opioid withdrawal. The drug should be taken only when prescribed by a qualified physician.

Since August, when federal regulators increased the number of patients to which one doctor could administer buprenorphine-based drugs from 100 to 275, nearly 1700 physicians have applied for these increases. The problem of opioid addiction is real and affects Texas residents of all ages. Elderly residents often start off taking prescription painkillers for a legitimate condition, but they wind up getting hooked because their regimen is not closely supervised by their doctors. Senior citizens are fast becoming a leading group for substance abuse and addiction; so much so, that drastic changes in state Medicaid programs, like this one, are needed more and more.

As prescription opioid abuse continues to ravage practically every population within the country, sufferers deserve every clinical resource at their disposal to help them get their lives back on track. Medicaid approval of proactive, effective and viable medication resources is a step in the right direction. While it’s still unclear as to what other state Medicaid programs will be open to approving these drugs, Texas residents suffering from the disease of addiction now have a further layer of insulation from the rigors of withdrawal and the crushing setback of relapse.

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