Addiction

Volunteer cuddlers helping infants born addicted to opioids

Volunteer Pamela Turocotte cuddles a newborn who was exposed to opioids while in the womb.

Volunteer Pamela Turocotte cuddles a newborn who was exposed to opioids while in the womb.  (Fox 25)

Volunteers at Boston Medical Center are helping babies who were exposed to drugs while in the womb heal faster with the power of human touch. The volunteer cuddlers are part of the hospital’s CALM program, which helps newborns who are suffering from neonatal abstinence syndrome, Fox 25 reported.

“By snuggling a baby, it can be a difference between a baby getting medication versus not,” Dr. Elisha Wachman, head of the hospital’s CALM program, told Fox 25.

Babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome may suffer from tremors and difficulty eating or getting comfortable.

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“We have a cuddler step in and really comfort the infant, to the point where, most of the time, I walk in and the infant is fast asleep on the cuddler, looking very comfortable and not showing any signs of withdrawal at all,” Wachman told Fox 25.

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According to Wachman, the program has helped to cut infants’ hospitalization time in half, while also helping 50 percent of babies heal without medication. The hospital has gotten 100 volunteers enrolled in the program since it started in December, with 150 more on the waiting list, Fox 25 reproted.

Program volunteer Pamela Turocotte said she became involved after watching her own grandchildren overcome neonatal abstinence syndrome.

“It fills you with so much purpose,” Pamela Turocotte, a volunteer, told Fox 25. “It’s amazing what one simple thing can do to change the outcome.”

Boston Medical Center said there are plans to expand the program in the spring.