SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA)- In recent years it’s become more common to see newborn babies experiencing opioid withdrawal symptoms. 

“Helping babies that have been through exposure to opioids in the womb is one of the most common things we deal with in the newborn nursery and so we’re always thinking about how to help them better,” said Dr. Jaime Brown, Spartanburg Regional pediatrician.

That constant focus on how to help them better resulted in a new, effective approach to treating newborn babies with withdrawal symptoms.

Dr. Brown said the typical technique in the past involved measuring things like a newborn’s pitch of crying or shaking, before deciding whether or not medication like morphine was necessary.

“Once a baby is on medication to help them through their withdrawal it takes a long time to wean them off, and it takes a longer stay in the hospital,” said Dr. Brown.

Now, by simply prioritizing breastfeeding and soothing, Spartanburg Regional said the need for medications among infants has significantly decreased.

“The grading system is different in that it’s… is the baby able to eat effectively, sleep effectively, be consoled effectively, the functions a baby needs as opposed to sneezing or something like that,” said Dr. Brown.

These function-based assessments have in turn encouraged more family involvement in the care plans, through the need for breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact. Dr. Brown said the new approach is a constant reminder to mothers that they are not alone. 

“We get to see if there’s any difference between these babies that got out a week earlier and had more parental involvement,” said Dr. Brown.

This eats, sleep, console, care approach is beginning to spread throughout the country and is resulting in newborns with symptoms being able to head home from the hospital a week earlier than usual.

Spartanburg Regional said it’s exciting to be a part of such a groundbreaking national sample for neonatal care.

“I am so proud of our system, it really does make me happy to work here,” said Dr. Brown. “The nurses and administration saw the potential in this and everyone moved in this change in their day-to-day methods which is really difficult, and we’re sticking to it at this time, seeing that it’s very promising,” said Dr. Brown.

Spartanburg Regional said there were 37 babies that participated in this sample, who they’ve been following up with for a year now and they said they will continue to follow up with them for this next year too.