“Reporter Duff Wilson reviewed more than 50,000 pages of documents and interviewed more than 300 people to assess the impact of opioids on newborns. The documents included about 5,800 child fatality reports and tens of thousands of additional pages of medical records and other documents obtained through more than 200 public records requests. To obtain those documents, Reuters began filing Freedom of Information Act requests in 2014 with federal, state, county and city agencies.
Reporters Wilson and John Shiffman interviewed mothers in seven states – including three mothers who are currently in prison – as well as doctors, nurses, social workers, drug counselors, prosecutors, defense lawyers, academics, child protection workers, lawmakers and relatives of people struggling with addiction.
Part 1: Unprotected. In America, a baby is born dependent on opioids every 19 minutes. But doctors aren’t alerting social services to thousands of these infants, many of whom come to harm in families shattered by narcotics.
Part 2: Failures to Act. A diagnosis of neonatal withdrawal comes at a critical moment, when child welfare workers can intervene and make a difference. Too often, they have failed to help a mother struggling with addiction – and save the life of her newborn.
Part 3: Second Chances. The incidence of neonatal drug withdrawal in West Virginia is among the highest in the nation. The crisis inspired a pilot program that weans the newborns off drugs and teaches mothers how to care for them.
Source: Reuters.com – December 7, 2015