Drug-addicted babies

AP Maura Friedman

A nurse monitors a baby girl showing signs of drug addiction.

An $800,000 grant will help establish a program to help expectant mothers in Fayette County who are struggling with opioid addiction.

The Perinatal Hope program, expected to launch in the spring through Allegheny Health Network offers prenatal care, medication-assisted treatment of opioid addiction assessments and counseling provided by the Pennsylvania Organization for Women in Early Recovery.

“In 2019, we spent some time studying opioid-use data for Fayette County,” said Michele Beener, president of Aspire Grant & Development. Beener wrote the grant for the program.

She said the data showed Fayette County has the fifth highest opioid overdose death rate in the state at 69.1% per 100,000 people and is the second highest in the state for the rate of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. Babies with the syndrome are born drug dependent. Last year in Fayette County, Benner said, 50 out of 1,000 babies who were born here had NAS.

“However, in-county access to maternity care is not available,” Beener said. “This statistic, combined with increasing birth rates, and lack of access, made this the perfect place to launch the program and make an impact.”

Beener said the Fayette County Drug and Alcohol Commission submitted a letter in support of the program and will be a collaborative partner. The grant will be dispersed in $400,000 increments by the state Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs in the next two years.

The program hub for Perinatal Hope will be at Jefferson Hospital in Jefferson Hills. Beener said the program has strong outcomes relative to success in maternal recovery.

“It’s a vulnerable time for women, and also a time when most new mothers will say, ‘I have this new life in front of me, I want to quit.’,” Beener said. “Absent resources, such as those provided by Perinatal Hope, this can be terribly difficult.”

Designed to support underserved women battling substance/opioid abuse disorder, Perinatal Hope is western the state’s first all-inclusive program for maternal addiction that combines obstetrical care, drug and alcohol therapy, and medication-assisted treatment in one clinic visit.

The grant was part of a $55.9 million U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration grant Gov. Tom Wolf secured to further combat the ongoing opioid crisis statewide.

For more information on Perinatal Hope, call 412-578-5575.

(1) comment


& when this doesn’t work can the mother be charged when she gives birth to a baby addicted? If she couldn’t stay clean while the baby was inside her what makes you think she’s gonna stay clean now that it’s out of her body? Take custody away too!!!!

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