The number of drug-related overdose deaths has been trending up across the U.S. in recent years, with synthetic opioids — particularly fentanyl — responsible for the majority of those deaths. In 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 56,516 of the 91,799 reported overdose deaths were caused by these potent opioids.
While the crisis primarily impacts drug users, including through narcotics spiked with fentanyl, an alarming number of children are also being exposed to the deadly substance.
The Daily Caller News Foundation recently compiled a report shedding light on the troubling epidemic, including examples like a 4-year-old Nebraska boy who died last year after taking a fentanyl-laced pill from a bottle his mother believed contained Percocet.
In many similar cases, children have accidentally ingested a pill, while others were exposed before birth due to the drug use of their mothers.
According to the National Institute of Health, a case of neonatal abstinence syndrome is diagnosed roughly once every 25 minutes in the United States.
“They’ll have symptoms like high-pitched screaming, maybe they’ll start rubbing their little neck so hard they get redness there,” said Victoria Halfcare, the nursing manager for Brigid’s Path, a newborn recovery center in Ohio. “One of the other really uncomfortable symptoms is frequent stooling so much that their bottoms become red and raw.”
A tragic case in Syracuse, New York, ended with second-degree murder charges for a mother and her boyfriend after they allegedly tried to calm down her 11-month-old son by feeding him fentanyl.
According to Derek Maltz, who previously led the Special Operations Division at the Drug Enforcement Agency, the situation only seems to be getting worse.
“Fentanyl has been the most devastating drug in America’s history,” he said. “Besides killing record levels of children below the age of 14, unfortunately babies are also getting exposed to this poisonous substance.”
He echoed the sentiment expressed by many Republican critics of the Biden administration’s immigration policy, asserting: “The country has never experienced anything like this and we need a greater sense of urgency to cut off the supply from the Mexican cartels.”
In a press conference last month, a group of GOP lawmakers slammed Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ inaction and called on the administration to label Mexican drug cartels terrorist organizations.
“The fact of the matter is that there is a war at the southern border and we are losing it,” declared Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN).