Drug Abuse Caring for the Smallest Victims of
Pediatric Interim Care Center, The Newborn Nursery


Over the last two decades, the number of drug-affected infants has been growing. It is estimated that as many as one in ten babies born in this country has suffered some degree of drug exposure. Due to the short time mothers spend in the hospital after giving birth, many of the infant’s symptoms are less likely to be recognized.



In the 1980’s, drug use, cocaine specifically, had hit a record high in the Puget Sound region of Washington State. The growing number of babies being born to mothers using drugs during pregnancy prompted the medical and social welfare communities to seek a medically safe care center for these infants. Barbara Drennen was asked to develop the concept of such a center because of her more than 25 years of experience with newborns and her success with those born drug-affected. In 1990, the Pediatric Interim Care Center, The Newborn Nursery, was established in response to that need. “PICC”, as it is more commonly known, located in Kent, Washington, is a center designed specifically for caring for these special little ones. As an “interim” center, serving the State of Washington, PICC receives newborns, which have been identified as drug exposed and assists them through the withdrawal process.



These techniques, which have been developed by Barbara Drennen after her years of experience working with this population, and are the ones that  have been used at the Pediatric Interim Care Center, The Newborn Nursery for over 17 years. They have proven to be effective in caring for this population of babies, and are now nationally recognized and used across the country.


Drug Types

We have compiled a chart outlining some of the various drugs and their effects.  Though not complete, it provides a basic understanding of each drug. It is helpful to know the categories of drugs when preparing for caring for drug-exposed infants.

Click here.


Common Symptoms

There are characteristics and symptoms that drug exposed babies will have in common. The nature of these are characteristics and symptoms, their frequency and timing will depend on a number of factors: 1) the drug to which the baby was exposed; 2) how each individual baby metabolizes the drug; and 3) the baby’s own temperament and tolerance. It needs to be stated that no two babies will react exactly alike and that it should be the responsibility of the caregiver to carefully monitor and “read” their infant and his signs.  Click here.





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