Derrick and Darryl have come to their names lately. When the twins were born, and for the first few weeks of their lives, they were known only as Baby 1 and Baby 2. They finally got their names from nurses at Howard University Hospital, where they have lived the entire five months of their lives. Now totally withdrawn from the drug addiction that was their mother's awful legacy, they live with many other babies like themselves. Their mother, who is still dependent on cocaine, has never laid eyes on them, doesn't even want to. Just as the pain of seeing these babies breaks the heart, so does the knowledge of the moral collapse of their mothers. We are faced here with an unprecedented phenomenon in this city and nation. And it affects the relationship of that deepest and most sacred of bonds: that between a mother and a child. In the case of crack cocaine, the most extraordinary and dreadful quality of its use is that it totally erodes all natural maternal tendencies. This is a development that is taking place from coast to coast and is a breakdown of profound proportions. "While it may be incredible to some of you here to think that a mother would just walk away from the child she has so recently delivered," Haynes Rice, director of Howard University Hospital, told a congressional committee recently, "it is a very real and increasing phenomenon among urban, drug-abusing females." The numbers are spiraling. A high percentage of these crack-abusing mothers are teenagers, and there were more new teenage mothers in the District last year than at any time since 1982. At Howard University Hospital alone, which is in a drug-infested corridor, 20 to 30 percent of delivering mothers, on a monthly basis, voluntarily admit to drug use. "This means that actual usage is probably closer to 40 to 50 percent of all the delivering mothers," Rice said. But of course the train of tragedy only starts with the mothers. Cocaine increases the number of premature, low birth weight babies suffering from drug withdrawal symptoms at birth. At one point at Howard in recent months, only three of 45 babies were healthy enough to be fed by their mothers after birth. Many of the children don't survive. Driven by the crack epidemic, the infant mortality rate in this city shot up last year to a staggering 23.2 deaths per 1,000 live births, the highest since 1980 and twice the national average. This is truly frightening. Furthermore, crack changes the personality of the user and in cases of mothers who keep their children, social welfare officials are seeing higher rates of child abuse. "This is a mean drug and it does mean things to people," Doug Besharov of the American Enterprise Institute said recently. The babies, some of whom are painstakingly nursed back to health by hospital personnel after being abandoned by their mothers, are called boarder babies -- a somewhat benign term for a horrible future. They are the ultimate casualties in the drug war. Tucked away from the public eye in hospitals, these boarder babies are severely crowding facilities, including Howard University as well as D.C. General and Greater Southeast. One day last week, Howard had 12 boarder babies, several of them infected with the AIDS virus, and 13 who officials felt might soon fit into that category. At other times, the number has been much higher. One 15-year-old drug abuser who delivered and abandoned a baby in the hospital is again pregnant. She has tested positive for AIDS. Rice said it cost $250,000 for a 245-day stay for yet another abandoned infant, a not unusual case, but Medicaid pays only $6,100 of the bill. Rice suggests solutions ranging from the radical -- a return to the idea of some kind of orphanages -- to the bureaucratic -- streamlining the city's foster care and adoption provisions. But until we face up to the underlying problem of why these young mothers are using crack cocaine, there will be more Darryls and Derricks. And what a terrible indictment of society that is.