Babies addicted to heroin get extra love from volunteer 'cuddlers'

CINCINNATI, OH (KTRK) -- An Ohio hospital is employing the help of volunteer "cuddlers" to help soothe newborn babies born addicted to heroin.

The babies can suffer from the effects of drug withdrawal and can be inconsolable without the right help, WLWT reports.

Volunteer cuddler Ted Rohling, at Mercy-Health Anderson Hospital, said, "They come into this world at a big disadvantage and I just want to help them out."

The cuddlers serve an important when busy nurses can't sit for hours and rock the babies who need extra care and comfort. Hospital officials say often the cuddlers hold the babies for three to four hours at a time because that's the only way the babies can sleep.

Veteran volunteer cuddler, Donna Mullins, said, "They do not have a nervous system yet to settle themselves. Sometimes the only time they somebody's arms when you can rock them. ...The opiate-addicted babies truly cannot function on their own for a few weeks. They need to be secure and they need to be comforted in order to be able to relax for sleep sometimes."

The issue is a growing problem in the area that the hospital is confronting. Carmen Bowling, Mercy-Health Anderson Hospital manager, said, "If the mom has been a drug user for a long time, the babies require holding almost 24 hours because they're inconsolable."

The job isn't always peaceful, but the babies are giving back in their own way. Rohling said, "It's a give-and-take. I'm helping them, but they're also helping me."
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