Police indicted a mother in Alabama after she gave birth to a baby addicted to heroin.
Alexandra Nicole Laird, 21, gave birth to a baby girl who tested positive for opiates and amphetamines on the day she was born, AL.com reports.
A little less than a week later, the baby was transferred to an intensive care unit for one month, where she suffered from withdrawals. Shortly after, Laird confessed to authorities she has been using heroin once or twice a week for at least half the time she was pregnant.
While Laird was arrested about a month after giving birth, she has been free on bail since then.
She was back in jail two months later on separate drug-related charges after a traffic stop revealed she and a man possessed 38 hydrocodone pills.
She now faces multiple charges, which include chemical endangerment of a child, a felony. She is set to be in court in July.
Authorities refuse to grant Laird custody of her child.
“You won’t know you’ve truly victimized this child until much later in life when she has trouble in school, trouble functioning,” Pleasant Grove police Lt. Danny Reid said.
The case represents the larger opiate problem in America that has extended to include pregnant women.
In 2013, more than 27,000 babies were born dependent on drugs, while statistics also reveal one baby is born craving opioids every 19 minutes, Reuters reports.
In West Virginia, the problem has gotten so bad that one hospital had to build a dimly lit unit primarily for babies to wean off the drugs.
“It’s relentless. There’s no break,” said Rhonda Edmunds, a neonatal nurse in Huntington, West Virginia, talking about caring for the babies. “You can just imagine a sleep-deprived parent, who can’t cope with her own issues, let alone their baby, and how that can lead to abuse or neglect.”
Authorities believe progress could be made if the Obama administration acted more aggressively on the issue.
“When are they going to start doing something?” Dr. Loretta Finnegan, an expert in neonatal abstinence syndrome, asked in an interview with Reuters. “We know these babies are very difficult to care for. If you do not create the proper conditions for mother and child, when they go home it’s a setup for the mothers or others in the home to commit abuse.”