Courts & Crime

Prescription-abuse babies a growing ‘crisis’ in Bradenton

MANATEE -- There’s a growing epidemic of babies being born addicted to prescription drugs ingested by young mothers, representatives of substance abuse organizations told county commissioners Tuesday.

One out of every three women seeking help with unplanned pregnancies now tests positive for such drugs, said Donna Vallenga, executive director for SOLVE Maternity Homes, with facilities in Bradenton and Englewood.

“These pregnant girls should not be getting these prescription drugs,” she told the board. “It’s just wrong.”

To counter that problem, the representatives pressed the commission to require pregnancy testing of women of child-bearing age before a doctor prescribes opiates.

Babies born to women who have abused pain medications shake, are underweight and don’t want to eat, Vallenga said.

Luz Corcuera, program director for the Healthy Start Coalition of Manatee County Inc., said, “We have a great concern for a growing number of prescription-abuse babies.

“We are seeing our resources are overstretched because those babies are needing special attention.”

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