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UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh says a dozen people — including six babies — are being treated for the antibiotic-resistant staph infection known as MRSA.

Toby Talbot / Associated Press

Fifteen in every 1,000 babies born in Pennsylvania in 2016 and 2017 were suffering from drug withdrawal, according to a new report from the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council. 

That's more than 1,900 newborns statewide born premature, underweight or in respiratory distress, all part of neonatal abstinence syndrome, which occurs when a pregnant woman addicted to drugs--often opioids--passes her addiction to the fetus, who experiences addiction withdrawal upon birth. 

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

A Pittsburgh hospital is opening a unit for that will allow new mothers to stay with their opioid-addicted infants.

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's Magee-Womens Hospital says the unit will initially consist of six rooms.

Margaret Sun / 90.5 WESA

Births in Allegheny County are expected to rise for the third consecutive year in 2017, but state Department of Health officials are hesitant to pin it on any one reason – especially a hockey game.

UPMC Magee Women's Hospital

In a quiet, dimly-lit room of UPMC's Magee-Women's Hospital in Oakland, volunteer "cuddler" Donna Comfort held a tiny newborn in her arms. The baby was one of at least five in the hospital born dependent on heroin, prescription painkillers, addiction treatment medication or another form of opioid.

Ben Allen / WITF

 

The opioid addiction crisis in Pennsylvania isn't just impacting adults, it's taking a toll on babies in the wombs of mothers who use prescription pain killers, heroin or Fentanyl.

WITF reporter Ben Allen recently reported on the issue for NPR and he spoke with WESA's Larkin Page-Jacobs about what he learned while working on the story. Allen said he visited a hospital in Harrisburg where they treat infants born addicted to opioids.