Hospitals looking for baby cuddlers to comfort infants with opioid withdrawal

Hospitals looking for cuddlers for opioid withdrawal infants

US Hospitals searching for volunteers to comfort opioid addicted babies!

As reported by, the US hospitals are searching for baby cuddlers to sooth infants with congenital opioid withdrawals.

An alarming statistic reported by National Institute of Drug Abuse, that every fifteen minutes, a baby is born with opioid withdrawal.

As defined by, Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, also known as NAS, is caused by drugs passed from mother’s blood stream directly in to fetus. Drug addiction and dependence on illicit substances can be transferred to the baby, and cause infant to have withdrawals.  Opiates like heroin and methadone cause withdrawal in fifty percent babies who were exposed during pregnancy.  Cocaine can result in toxic effects on baby, and drugs like amphetamine, barbiturates and narcotics may cause withdrawals. Alcohol use can result in birth defects and addiction.

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Why is NAS is such an alarming concern?

If a mother uses illicit drugs, she exposes her baby to irreparable health damages, addiction and death. Women who use illicit substances susceptible to use multiple drugs, and often forgo prenatal care. A combination of these facts can cause more complications, and make infants treatment more difficult.

According to a statistics the number of babies born with NAS is rapidly growing, and had become a national epidemic through out US. This critical situation can no longer be withheld from the nation-wide attention. Most of infants born with opioids withdrawal symptoms are rushed to Neonatal Intensive Care. They  are required a high level of medical care due to their vulnerable state, and susceptibility to infections and other conditions. In in effort to provide a mother like comfort to these babies, hospitals across the board are  recruiting  what they refereed to as baby cuddlers, a volunteer program centered around providing the infants with warmth of human contact. The first and most vital contact the baby needs to thrive is the one that is naturally performed by mothers.  A retired nurse Vicki Agnitsch, who is part of Cuddler Volunteer program at Blank Children’s Hospital has shared the importance of human touch for the newborns in NICU.  She finds the human connection to be vital in treatment of these babies, and points out that cuddling leads to lesser administered medication , and significant improvement.  Vicki had been with this program since 2011, and finds the time spent with the infants to be rewarding. It provides a reciprocal sensation to both volunteers and babies.  While being cuddled, the infants receive a sense of calm and safety they need for their well-being.  She also notes, that while in the womb they had some of this comfort, but once out and stricken with various health issues, they require so much more in addition to touching, swaddling and talking.  The retired nurse feels that a progress in their development and healing are in part to the cuddling program.

As reported by Texas Public Radio

the number of babies born with NAS has increased by sixty percent in the last five years,  mainly in San Antonio Taxes.

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While the demand for cuddlers increases on the daily basis, many hospitals like University Hospital in San Antonio,  searching for more volunteers to add to their successful program. The volunteers in this area have been able to experience all phases of symptoms the babies struggle with, and understand how to handle them.  The symptoms include tremors and seizures, gastrointestinal problems, feeding issues, muscle stiffness, and they are easily identified by a high-pitched crying of these infants. Dr. Meredith Flores, a pediatrician at NICU, is pleased with the cuddling program. She shares, that three or four babies assigned to each doctor, they are fed every three hours, and there is not enough time to hold these babies. So having volunteers sit and connect with them is amazing. She confirms that much improvement is reported in the infants scores, and decrease need in required medications.

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