There may be a glimmer of hope in the battle against opioid addiction in Tennessee.

A 2018 annual report from the Tennessee Department of Health says the number of babies born dependent on drugs is going down.

News4 spoke with Kimberly Ladd who remembers her daughter telling her she needed treatment for a heroine addiction more than a year ago. She was also pregnant.

“It wasn’t an easy conversation because she had subsequently gotten addicted from a prescription pill and that was something that I had experienced myself nine years ago," Ladd said.

Ladd is the director for the Maury County Prevention Coalition. It helps those suffering from addiction.

"Looking for treatment was difficult. Finding treatment for her was very difficult," Ladd said.

Dr. Stephen Patrick with Vanderbilt University Medical Center agrees that needs to change. In the last two years, he said the hospital has taken care of around 250 babies born drug dependent.

He's seeing something new.

“Infants are increasingly having drug withdrawal because mom is in treatment and that’s a win," Dr. Patrick said.

He said they're using medications like Subutex and Methadone. Those are used to treat addictions to opioids like Vicodin. 

Dr. Patrick said the medications can prevent a baby from being born early.

He had a response to the 2018 report.

“This isn’t a time to let up. It’s a time to continue to provide both resources as well as coordination in terms of what the state is doing.”

The report says the state is seeing fewer cases of babies born with drug with withdrawal symptoms. Those include shaking, trouble sleeping, and being irritable.

“Let’s grab our arms around this because it really does take everybody to come around," Ladd said.

Dr. Patrick said everyone needs to focus on prevention, making it easier for pregnant women to get treatment, and offering resources after the child is born. is now with you on the go! Get the latest news updates and video, 4WARN weather forecast, weather radar, special investigative reports, sports headlines and much more from News4 Nashville.

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Copyright 2019 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


Cameron Taylor is a national Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist who joined the News 4 team in December 2018.

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