New hospital program hopes to cuddle, help drug addicted babies

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DAYTON, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT) -- The opiate problem in the Miami Valley is having an effect on newborn babies.

Now, a local hospital has implemented a program to help support those babies going through withdrawal.

Today, July 7, 2017, is the first day for the Infant Cuddle Program.

People at Miami Valley Hospital are really excited about the program.

It's been in the making for several years.

The Infant Cuddle Program is a pretty simple concept but nurses say it will do a lot of good.

For privacy reasons, the baby in this story is in the neonatal intensive care unit but is not one of those going through drug withdrawal.

Laurie Mays is a volunteer for Miami Valley Hospital's new infant cuddle program.

"This definitely will fill my need for holding babies and loving on them," said volunteer Laurie Mays.

The cuddle program is only for babies going through drug withdrawal.

"Whether that's heroin or methadone or even a prescription drug like Vicodin or Percocet those are all opiates and can cause neonatal abstinence syndrome," said Miami Valley Hospital's Neonatal Health Educator Amy Clayton.

The hospital's neonatal intensive care unit has been working to get this program underway ever since the opiate crisis hit the Dayton area.

"The use of opiates during pregnancy messes with the baby's brain development and so bonding and cuddling, that social interaction, quiet talking, even singing, quietly, is nice for these babies," said Clayton.

The hospital is looking for volunteers 18 and older. Women and men can apply.

"We're looking for compassionate, nonjudgmental people. They have to go through a background check and they have to pass some health screenings as well," said Clayton.

So far, 14 people have signed up but the hospital is looking for more volunteers.

"These babies need this, you know it's really important and it really helps them and if their moms can't be there to cuddle them, then I'm really glad we have volunteers that can help," said Clayton.

Clayton said the hospital can have three to 10 infants at a time going through withdrawal.

Volunteers are encouraged to put in at least two hours when they are there.

Clayton said the babies can use those with loving arms every day of the year.

To volunteer, click here or call 937-208-2879.

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