MUNCIE -- Delaware County babies are being born already addicted to legal and illegal drugs.
So many, in fact, that local doctors, pharmacists and child abuse prevention advocates are coming together -- determined to put the brakes on what they call a growing epidemic.
"When I realized what was going on, I started to cry," said Jo Ann Pierce, a volunteer cuddler at IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital. Cuddlers serve as "an extra pair of hands" for nurses in the neonatal intensive care unit. They also often hold the babies staying in the unit.
"Two weeks ago, there were 14 babies in the NICU and seven were addicted to drugs," Pierce said. "It was the same the following week. This is an epidemic in Delaware County, I'd say. And we need all parts -- doctors, pharmacists, social workers, law enforcement, legislators, mothers -- to end it."
The state's Prenatal Substance Abuse Commission has reported that between 5 and 6 percent of children born in Indiana have been exposed to drugs while in utero.