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Concern grows as number of babies born addicted to meth rises in Comanche Co.

Published: Aug. 31, 2020 at 10:27 PM CDT
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LAWTON, Okla. (TNN) - Terena Mosley, Summer Aitson, Carlotta Harry and Heather Short were all charged with child neglect.

Their babies all born over the last few months addicted to meth.

“Babies have to be placed on substances that mimic the drug they are exposed to, so they can wean off of that,” said Paula Griffith, the CCMH Director of Women and Children Services.

Griffith said this isn’t a rare occurrence.

Nearly 5 percent of babies nationwide are born addicted to an illegal substance.

Often times the doctors aren’t aware of what they are dealing with until the birth.

“Drug use complicates the pregnancy in numerous ways. Drugs inhibit the moms ability to be healthy, inhibits blood flow to the fetus, placenta and can cause not just problems immediately after, but long term,” said Griffith.

While in the hospital, special care is needed for both mom and baby

“The babies and moms do need to be monitored closely. Sometimes babies withdrawing can be life threatening,” said Griffith.

The ultimate goal of the hospital is to keep moms and babies united.

State law requires the hospital to step in.

“we are legally bound to report to DHS any baby that is born exposed in utero to legal or illegal substances,” said Griffith.

For expecting women battling addiction, a local substance abuse counselor said it’s important to get ahead of the issue.

“If it’s life and death for the mom, it’s life and death for the baby. The only way we can help with that is to get her in treatment, and get her off the meth,” said Scott Hammonds.

At Roadback, an expecting mother moves to the top of the treatment priority list. Still though, Hammonds said a lot of times, these women don’t speak up about their addiction.

“Sure, they used and we can’t deny that but some of the ability to reason properly could be distorted.”

If use continues after the baby is born, Hammonds said the baby continues to be at risk, for things like neglect and abuse, or exposure in their homes.

Kyle Cabelka, with the Comanche County District Attorney’s office said since meth possession became a misdemeanor babies born exposed to meth is up 300 percent.

He says on top of the 15 filed in 2020, the last calendar year also includes 5 infant deaths.

There is a task force made up of local agencies including LPD and DHS.

He said they plan to recommend prison time for every prosecution.

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