WSU Researchers Investigate Impactful Care for Babies Affected by Opioid Crisis at Maddie’s Place

WSU team to study care of babies exposed to drugs
Babies with NAS are commonly worn in a sling just like this for extended periods of time to help soothe them.

In response to the escalating opioid crisis and a surge in fentanyl-related deaths, Washington State University’s Spokane team, led by Celestina Barbosa-Leiker and including Ekaterina Burduli, an assistant professor in the College of Nursing, is embarking on a year-long study at Maddie’s Place—a unique transitional care nursery in Spokane catering to infants exposed to drugs in utero. The facility, a pioneer in the state, offers an alternative to traditional neonatal intensive care units, focusing on low-stimulating, soothing environments with specialized attention from trained nurses. Burduli emphasizes that babies exposed to opioids in utero tend to fare best in such environments, where they can room in with their mothers or caregivers around the clock.

The study, funded by a $189,496 grant from the Washington Health Care Authority, seeks to evaluate the effectiveness of Maddie’s Place, with Burduli highlighting the significance of non-pharmacological care, such as swaddling, skin-to-skin contact, and on-demand feeding. The research aims to address underreported cases, providing crucial insights into neonatal abstinence syndrome and contributing to strategies for mitigating the broader opioid epidemic.

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