An unsettling video captures the devastating consequences of taking drugs during pregnancy.
In the heartrending footage, a newborn infant is seen struggling in withdrawal as his legs shake uncontrollably.
A startling Reuters investigation revealed a severe opiate epidemic escalating in the United Sates, and its most vulnerable victims are babies.
The clip above shows a baby’s tiny legs rapidly shaking. Baby Braxton was born addicted to methadone, what his mother — Clorissa Jones — was taking in order to get off heroin. His condition has since improved after overcoming tremors, hypersensitivity and spasms due to the withdrawal.
Reuters found 27,000 diagnosed cases of drug-dependent infants born in 2013, a number that has skyrocketed significantly in the last ten years.
“On average, one baby was born dependent on opioids every 19 minutes,” Reuters wrote.
Yet despite this alarming rate, measures remain lacking to combat this surging epidemic and ensure the child’s safety once they are sent home with their drug-addicted mother.
While federal law maintains that health care providers must alert child protection services, most states ignore the policy. At least 36 states do not have laws requiring medical professionals to report each case. This dangerous oversight often sends children to their deathbed. Reuters found 110 examples since 2010 of infants dying preventable deaths.
Jones sees Braxton as her motivation for finally embracing sobriety.
"I know Braxton saved my life in the fact that I was able to stay clean through my whole pregnancy and I'm still clean right now,” Jones said. “It's him I look forward to every day, you know?”
Jones lost custody of her first son, Jacoby, after being consistently high on heroin during and after her pregnancy.
"I was in labor, in the bathroom shooting heroin about to give birth to my child," Jones said.
"Nothing matters except for getting high. When I'm getting high, nothing matters, I'm very selfish, I'm self-centered."
Thankfully, during her second pregnancy Jones received help from John Hopkins University program for addicted mothers.
Dr. Lauren Jansson, who treated Braxton, says despite the overwhelming expense these kind of treatments are necessary given the country's drastic opiate crisis.
"They deliver infants that are removed from their custody, they wind up with significant health problems because they're continuing to use, those are the horror stories, that costs much more down the line than providing this care during pregnancy that's comprehensive and addresses all the needs of the mother, her pregnancy and then the infant after birth,” Dr. Jansson said.
The life of a child and life of a mother can be saved with comprehensive, immediate solutions instead of society dismissively brushing aside these problems — as is happening right now.