First lady Melania Trump was greeted by a handful of protesters outside Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, where she visited an intensive care unit for newborns suffering from opioid withdrawal Tuesday.
A few protesters held signs with slogans like “Melania Leave Philly!” and “Complicit” and chanted “Shame on you, Melania!” and “Families belong together” outside the hospital, according to a pool report.
Trump also spoke at a hospital conference on newborns exposed to opioids in the womb.
“As the caretakers of the next generation, it is our responsibility to protect our most valuable and vulnerable, our children,” Trump said, according to CNN.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar was also at the conference and discussed the “heartbreakingly common” neonatal abstinence syndrome that affects babies born to mothers who are addicted to drugs, reported CNN.
Trump joked about “a little delay” at the beginning of her remarks at the conference after a mechanical issue forced her plane to return to Joint Base Andrews after taking off around 9 a.m. for Philadelphia.
Smoke and a burning smell permeated the cabin of the plane, and reporters placed wet towels on their faces at the recommendation of the flight crew, reported Peter Alexander of NBC News. (RELATED: Melania Trump’s Plane Turns Around After ‘Mechanical Issue,’ Smoke In Cabin)
BREAKING: Smoke and burning smell reported on Melania Trump’s flight to Philadelphia after “mechanical issue,” per pool.
Flight returning to Andrews. Press brought wet towels, told to hold them over their faces if smell became too strong.
Smell and smoke have since dissipated.
— Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) October 17, 2018
The first lady was able to make it to the hospital by 11 a.m. and visit families affected by the opioid crisis.
An estimated 2 percent of babies in the U.S. are born drug-dependent, according to Kaiser Health News. A baby is born with withdrawal symptoms every 15 minutes in the U.S., according to a 2018 Vanderbilt University Research Center study. (RELATED: How The Opioid Epidemic Is Taking Its Toll On Families: Grandparents Raising Grandkids, Babies In Withdrawals)
Neonatal doctors are working to standardize more effective care for babies suffering from opioid withdrawals.
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