Imagine needing help but not being able to ask for it. Imagine a stranger coming along and through the power of love helps you heal.

This is the gift that many drug-addicted babies receive and what many others need. Drug addicted moms give birth to babies who inherit their mother’s addiction in the womb. This causes a drug withdrawal syndrome in newborns that is called neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).

The bad news is these numbers are up. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, since 2012 there have been five times more babies born with NAS.

The best solution is prevention, education and help — proper care and treatment for expectant moms. Babies born with drug addiction suffer. A variety of studies also show that pain and trauma early in life — physical, mental and emotional — impacts brain development, health and wellness for life.

According to Stanford Children’s Health, problems experienced by babies born to drug-addicted moms include:

  • Premature birth
  • Low birth weight
  • Birth defects
  • Microcephaly or small head circumference
  • Seizures
  • Trembling, shaking and irritability
  • Excessive, high-pitched crying
  • Sudden infant death syndrome
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Sweating
  • Fever or unstable temperature
  • Tight muscle tone
  • Hyperactive reflexes
  • Poor feeding and suck
  • Sleep problems
  • Long-term developmental and behavioral problems


To help babies who are facing these problems, there is medical intervention, hope and help. Across the country, there are volunteer cuddling programs at hospitals. These programs report that being held and soothed helps babies heal and go through drug withdrawals faster.   

Nurses are often busy and unable to spend significant time comforting and consoling the babies. That is where volunteers come in, and the results are that the babies suffer less, require less treatment and medication and can go home sooner. 

Because drug-addicted babies are irritable and hard to console, interventions, such as cuddling and swaddling, give them a feeling of comfort, security and safety.

Who can help?

If you’re an expectant mom and have a drug addiction, contact Destiny Adoption to be referred to resources for medical care and drug addiction counseling. Medical professionals can help you with treatment, including administering methadone to manage opiate addiction during pregnancy.

If you’d like to volunteer for a baby cuddling program, contact your local hospital or one of the following programs:

Author: Destiny Adoption Services

Destiny Adoption Services is proud to support and guide birth parents and adoptive families on the journey of adoption. We’re a state licensed nonprofit adoption agency with four decades of adoption experience, and our professional team of experts includes moms, adoptive moms and birth mothers who provide compassion combined with trusted resources and skills.