LaTanya Halliburton, 34, feeds her nearly 3-month-old son, Zabian, in their room at the Haymarket Center in Chicago.
Zabian Halliburton was born across the southern Illinois border on New Year's Day, arriving into the world at 8 pounds, 6 ounces and 21 inches.
By his second night, he was in withdrawal from the cocktail of meth and heroin his mother used while pregnant, as well as the methadone treatment she relied on to try to get clean. He spent the first week of his life weaning off drugs.
"He just turned red," his mother, LaTanya Halliburton, 34, recalls. She's sitting inside a playroom while Zabian sips a bottle at the West Loop's Haymarket Center, one of the few places in Illinois where mothers and their kids can stay together during addiction treatment. "He was screaming and sweating like crazy."
The opioid epidemic has unleashed a storm that's battering its tiniest victims, whether their moms used legally or not during pregnancy. The number of babies born with withdrawal symptoms—inconsolable crying, trembling and, in the worst cases, seizures—is skyrocketing across the country as opioid use grips their parents. A severe drought of treatment options in Illinois for pregnant women in the throes of addiction suggests there's no resolution in sight.
The burden to treat these babies is enormous—on the hospitals that care for them, on the state Medicaid program that largely incurs the cost, and on the generation of children who face little-understood long-term consequences.