GADSDEN, Ala. (WIAT) — We’re seen what drug abuse can do to the user. Doctors in Etowah County are seeing what drug abuse can do to unborn children.
According to the Etowah County Sheriff’s Office, 50 babies were born dependent upon prescription pain medications, methamphetamine or other illegal drugs in 2012.
That’s nearly one drug dependent baby born each week.
“We’re going to prosecute these people,” Sheriff Todd Entrekin says. “We’re going to prosecute them and we’re going to see that these children are given the chance to be raised drug free.”
Sheriff Entrekin is joining forces with the District Attorney and the Etowah County Department of Human Resources to address this growing problem. Law enforcement officials say mothers who are using drugs are unlikely to receive any prenatal care at a hospital, making it difficult for anyone to find out that a pregnant woman is using drugs until it is too late and the child is born.
“It’s terrible to see them suffer and what they have to go through,” Sheriff Entrekin says, “The pain that they are in, being born with an addiction.”
These babies will often develop sores on their chins from rubbing the skin raw and scratches on their cheeks — tell-tale signs of a baby in extreme pain.
That’s when DHR steps in.
“We have the responsibility to make sure that that infant is released, discharged from the hospital in the care of someone who can meet that child’s needs.” Etowah Co. DHR Director Teresa Sauls says.
The Etowah County Jail has a substance abuse program in place for women to help ensure another baby isn’t brought into the world facing an uphill battle from the start.