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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

New Hampshire Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

The prescription drug epidemic is far reaching, impacting nearly all walks of life. Sadly, the new millennium has seen an exponential rise in babies being born with hardly a chance, drugs coursing through their blood before they even take the first gasp of air. The rise in prescription drug abuse has caused many to turn to heroin as a cheaper alternative to high priced opiate medications. Many of the aforementioned addicts happen to be expectant mothers. In New Hampshire, they have seen a rise in the number of babies born addicted to opioids, what’s known as Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), according to the New Hampshire Union Leader.

The number of addicted babies rose 600 percent between 2003 and 2009, according to Dr. William H. Edwards, section chief of neonatology at the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock (CHaD) in Lebanon. “It really is an epidemic,” said Edwards. “It’s an astounding problem, and it needs to be recognized.”

The New Hampshire Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services and the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation released a report; findings showed that in 2009 116 infants were born with NAS, more than five times the amount born in 2000.

The national cost of health care for NAS babies has gone from $190 million to $720 million from 2000 to 2009 - nearly quadrupling. The average hospital costs for each NAS case rose from $39,400 to $53,400, according to an American Hospital Association (AHA) report.

There is a huge societal cost associated with NAS, as might be expected, many of the new mothers lacked health insurance and the majority of the hospital bills were covered by Medicaid. Safely detoxing babies from narcotics is not cheap by any means. The AHA report found state Medicaid programs had paid the bills for about 78 percent of addicted newborns.
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