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The Source: Bexar County Leads State In Newborns Suffering From Opioid Withdrawl


A third of the infants born in Texas who suffer opioid withdrawals are in Bexar County. But as TPR's David Martin Davies reports an effort is underway to provide better medical care for the youngest victims of the opioid crisis.

A caller to TPR’s The Source on Wednesday said her name was Alex and she was once pregnant while addicted to Vicodin.

“My pain clinic doctor actually told me it was okay, just to watch the limit of the intake of the medication - but of course he kept me on."

Alex said her new born daughter was fortunate and didn't endure visible signs of opioid withdrawal. But according to Lisa Cleveland - an assistant professor at the school of nursing at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio infant withdrawal is a serious problem in Bexar County.

“These babies have a variety of symptoms that they experience and one in particular is inconsolable crying – and they often don’t sleep well.”

Cleveland said one treatment for the withdrawal is Kangaroo Infant Care which is a method of mother-child skin to skin holding that she is studying.

“So what we are doing with the Kangaroo Infant Care study is looking at the impact this has on stress and attachment with mother infant dyads.”

Lisa Ramirez is with the substance use disorders programs at the Texas Department of State Health Services. She said the legal system sometimes separates the mothers from the babies.  She says it's important they be kept together.

“Babies and moms do much better when they are kept together and the mom can be part of their recovery and the moms tend to also recover better.”

An effort is underway to establish a Bexar county collaborative to deal with infant opioid withdraws. That will be discussed this weekend at a national conference in San Antonio.

San Antonio is hosting the Conference on Community Engagement and Healthcare Improvement this weekend Saturday and Sunday at the Riverwalk Wyndham downtown. The conference is free and open to the public.


  • Lisa Ramirez, Texas Department of State Health Services
  • Lisa Cleveland, University of Texas Health Science Center School of Nursing
David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi