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Gundersen program helps mothers, parents with drug addictions

Gundersen program helps mothers,...

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - Drug addiction continues to be a problem in La Crosse.

Just last week News 8 reported the number of babies born dependent on Opioids and other drugs is rising at an alarming rate in Wisconsin.

The number of babies born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome has more than tripled since 2006.

But a Gundersen Health System program is finding ways to deal with these young patients.

For privacy reasons, Gundersen has asked News 8 not to reveal the name of the program. But doctors say it helps keep mothers and their babies safe.

Children born to parents with substance abuse have a bigger risk of maltreatment, child abuse and neglect.

"When parents are actively engaging in drug behavior, they are not able to focus on meeting the needs of their babies," said Ann Budzak, a pediatrician at Gundersen Health System.

This is why the unique program in the area was designed a little more than a year ago to help families who are dealing with issues like drug addiction.

During the program, moms and their newborns meet with a team of pediatric nurses, social workers and child psychologists 17 times during the baby's first year.

Moms then have a chance to talk about different stressors in their lives and ways they can address them.

For some parents, the path to sobriety is tougher than it is for others, but the goal is the same.

"They very much want to be good parents, and they want to raise healthy children," said Budzak.

Obstetricians at Gundersen say they're seeing more patients with meth addictions than they did six years ago.

And they say the best way to find success through the program is to seek treatment as soon as a mother finds out she's pregnant.

"We perform ultra sounds at 32 weeks to check for fetal growth we have them meet with a pediatrician to specifically discuss Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome or the withdraw system that babies experience," said Charles Schauberger, an obstetrician at Gundersen Health System.

This provides a smooth transition from pregnancy to birth and beyond.

"Addiction is a lifetime disease and the program for the parents and babies our plan is until that child is an adult," said Budzak.

More than 50 babies and their parents are currently in the program.     

Dads are also welcome to participate and many do, according to hospital staff.
   
 


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