Fighting Opioids and Saving Babies


Babies are dying in our state, and it’s up to us to stop it. That’s why more than 1,000 people were in Indianapolis on Wednesday, for the annual Labor of Love Infant Mortality Summit.

Arielle Lopez brought her 6-month old daughter to the summit to learn.

Lopez said “I’m hoping to learn how to prevent and how to help spread the word. How to educate other families so this doesn’t happen to them or anyone that anyone knows.”

She was one of 1,300 people at the State Department of Health’s Labor of Love Infant Mortality Summit.

Wednesday’s lessons address the effects of opioids on our state’s mothers and babies.

Kristina Box, the Indiana State Health Commissioner said “Those symptoms can include jitteriness, irritability, poor feeding, poor growth, crying uncontrollably, because they’re really going through withdrawal. from not having mom’s drugs that she was using in her system.”

Doctors said the danger doesn’t stop there, especially for the moms around the nation.

Dr. Michael Lu, who is the Senior Associate  Dean for Academic Faculty and Student Affairs at George Washington University said  “We have increasing reports of maternal deaths from opioid overdose, often in the post-partem period when mom’s access to medication and assistance treatment gets discontinued.”

Indiana’s State Health Commissioner said they’re in a pilot program using 26 hospitals across the state, to test women in their first trimester with a urine drug sample and testing babies they feel are at risk, after delivery.

Kristina Box, the Indiana State Health Commissioner said  “Unfortunately, we’re seeing that nearly 16% of our umbilical cords on the baby after delivery are coming back positive for opiates. Greater than 20% are coming back positive for marijuana.”

People also learned about breastfeeding, smoking dangers, safe sleep practices, and cultural birthing norms.

Jennifer Walthall, Secretary of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration said  “We’re learning about stigma and how every individual has an opportunity to be part of the solution.”

Jim McClelland, Executive Director for the Drug Prevention, Treatment, and Enforcement for the State of Indiana said “Don’t use. If you are, get help early. Don’t neglect this.”

Also brand new on Wednesday, the state launched a new free pregnancy help app called “Liv”. It’s free in the Apple and Android stores. Next year’s event is scheduled for November 14th, 2018.

To learn more about the Labor of Love Summit, click here

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