Studies have shown when a mom drinks alcohol or smokes cigarettes during a pregnancy, this significantly impacts how the child grows and develops long after they're born. It's unclear what kind of impact opioids will have.
"When you go back and look at those moms who were using opioids during pregnancy, how do you subtract out if they were using other drugs of abuse as well as alcohol as well as cigarettes? How do you decide, what was the percentage that each one affected the baby?" said Dr. Chris Pezzullo, Chief Health Officer with the Department of Health and Human Services in Maine.
Babies born drug dependent may be fussier and harder to soothe.
"And that in turn can be harder for parents to parent as a result because they're harder to console and it takes some intervention from the medical community in order to help with that as well,"said Kirsten Capeless, acting director for the office of Child and Family Services with The Department of Health and Human Services in Maine.
There's a mandate. Medical providers who care for pregnant women need to report to DHHS if there's a mom is using substances.
"Any baby that's really crabby that you can't quite console, our radars go-up and say, 'Ahh, does this baby has something going on in the withdrawal category?" said Dr. Mark Brown with Eastern Maine Medical Center.
"We're always viewing the cases from the child's safety perspective and we're looking at statutory authority in order to chose whether we can intervene or not with a family,"said Capeless.
In Maine, a new law has been implemented called the chapter 4-88 Prescription Monitoring Law (PMP) which takes a look at prevention, and tries to have fewer prescription opioids out in the community.
"Since that has been in affect, since last July, we've noticed a 10% reduction in one year in the number of opioid prescriptions that are being written in Maine. Which actually translates to about 10-million fewer doses of opioids out in the community in the past year," said Pezzullo.
There's also a pilot occurring for really high-risk families that have substance abuse within the family.
"Where there's both co-located intensive outpatient treatment as well as intensive parenting for the families to try to get a handle on having a better outcome for those families and for those children. Clearly those children are going to be faced with trauma with if they have parents who are not adequately treated who are currently addicted to a substance," said Pezzullo.
Even though the number of babies born drug-dependent has stayed roughly the same for the past 3-4 years, Dr. Pezzullo says he has hope things will change.
"It would be great if we see that decreasing. We're trying to really solve the problem by having access to treatment," said Pezzullo.