Volunteers Help Babies Affected by Opioid Epidemic

March 9, 2020

Volunteers Help Babies Affected by Opioid EpidemicWhat:

All babies cry. But the cries of babies who were exposed to opiates in the womb can sound very different. These newborns often have excessive and high-pitched cries, gastrointestinal issues, sweating and other symptoms as they go through substance withdrawal – known as neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). 


Opioid-exposed babies often experience these symptoms of NAS soon after birth as they withdraw from the opioids that were in their mother’s systems while pregnant.


Brenner Children’s Hospital’s Cuddlers on Call program is staffed by approximately 50 volunteers who soothe these newborns by rocking them to sleep, swaddling them and providing the human touch that babies need. These hand-selected volunteers, who have previously worked within the Wake Forest Baptist Health system in a different capacity, have received additional screening and training to help them comfort these babies. 


“Newborns affected by NAS are really given a rough start to life,” said Tiffany Lyon, nurse manager-fellow at Brenner Children’s. “Our goal and hope with this program is to add comfort and love to these tiny patients as they navigate through a very challenging time.” 


All babies exposed to opioids in the womb are monitored for NAS, however; all babies opioid-exposed will not necessarily develop NAS. The babies that do develop the syndrome require hospital treatment. 


Cuddlers on Call recruits from existing and active volunteers within the Wake Forest Baptist system several times a year. Those interested in exploring other volunteer opportunities can visit Volunteer-Services to apply. 




Tuesday, March 10 at 11 a.m.




Brenner Children’s Hospital




Media representatives interested in speaking with Tiffany and a volunteer cuddler must contact the Media Relations office by 10 a.m. tomorrow (Tuesday) for logistical information. 


Media Contacts

Eryn Johnson, eryjohns@wakehealth.edu336-713-8228 

Joe McCloskey, jmcclosk@wakehealth.edu336-716-1273