Dayton hospital creates 'infant-cuddle' program for babies withdrawing from opiates

DAYTON, Ohio -- A simple cuddle can work miracles for the youngest victims of Ohio’s heroin and opioid epidemic.

Miami Valley Hospital launched an infant cuddling program on July 1 to help newborns diagnosed with neonatal abstinence syndrome, a condition affecting babies going through withdrawal after their mother’s use of opiates or other drugs.

ABC News reports Miami Valley saw about 90 babies with the syndrome last year.

"The moms’ arms are the best medicine for these babies, but if the mom cannot be there to provide the cuddling social interaction, the cuddlers can help fill that void and help soothe and comfort these babies,” Amy Clayton, clinical nurse educator, told ABC News.

RELATED: St. Elizabeth program seeking volunteers to cuddle newborns in NICU

Neonatologist Kruti Jambula told ABC News that babies with the condition often display irritability, jitters, high-pitched cries, clamminess and sensitivity to bright lights and loud noises.

"They don't eat very well either, and if they do they might throw up,” Jambula said.

Clayton said the hospital has been overwhelmed with interest from prospective volunteers and is no longer accepting applications.

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