Lawmaker Wants To Reduce Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Cases

A state lawmaker plans to introduce legislation that would require doctors report babies born with complications due to addictive drugs received while in utero.

Babies with neonatal abstinence syndrome can be born underweight, have respiratory complications and experience seizures.

Photo: Flickr (zone41)

Babies with neonatal abstinence syndrome can be born underweight, have respiratory complications and experience seizures.

A newborn infant exposed to addictive drugs in the uterus may face a series of health problems after birth known as neonatal abstinence syndrome.

Babies with NAS can be born underweight, have respiratory complications and experience seizures. A decade ago, only about one baby per year was born in Indiana with NAS. But by 2012, that number had increased to one a week, according to the Department of Health.

That’s why Sen. Vaneta Becker, R-Evansville, wants to propose legislation next year that would require medical professionals to report cases of NAS. Becker says reporting is the first step in helping the problem, but it’s not the only solution her legislation will propose.

“So we also want for women to have the ability to seek treatment without repercussion,” says Becker. “So if we have the reporting information to the State Board of Health that will allow health officials to identify cases more quickly and accurately and to save lives basically, both women and babies.”

Larry Humbert is the executive director for the Indiana Perinatal Network and has worked on NAS intervention for the last seven years. He says if doctors were required to report cases of NAS it would help his organization work towards solutions.

But Humbert says getting to the root of the problem with the drug use by the mother is the only way to reduce NAS cases.

“If you can identify, and care for, and nurture for the mother during the pregnancy, you’ll do a much better job caring for a nurturing the baby,” he says.

Becker is currently working with the Attorney General to draft legislation to propose in the next session.

Claire McInerny

Claire McInerny is a reporter/producer for WFIU/WTIU news. She comes to WFIU/WTIU from KCUR in Kansas City. She graduated with a journalism degree from the University of Kansas where she discovered her passion for public media and the stories it tells. You can follow her on Twitter @ClaireMcInerny.

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  • Fish

    A good idea, but only if conservatives restrain themselves from prosecuting those women, because then they will neither seek help while pregnant, nor will a certain percentage of them give birth in hospitals or other locations where they might be reported.

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