A video released by a hospital in West Virginia is shedding light on neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). It's when babies are born addicted to prescription medications, like pain pills. Escambia County ranks high in Florida; 13th in the state.
The video from Cabell-Huntington Hospital in West Virginia is heartbreaking. You can see an infants legs trembling. Doctors released the video to show people that many babies are being born just like this newborn addicted to pain pills. Sacred Heart NICU director, Dr. Ramak Amjad said, "We call that tremulousness."
He sees it all the time in the NICU at Sacred Heart. They treat most babies in the region that are born addicted to drugs. On average, 50 to 60 babies are in the NICU at Sacred Heart each day. He said around 10 percent of them are born addicted to opiates, roughly about 100 babies per year.
He said, "In Florida, since 1995, the incidence has increased 10 times, the national average has increased 3 times."
He said the numbers have gone up due to the pain pill epidemic we've seen across the country. The babies are usually monitored for 2 to 3 weeks and they are often on a methadone drip to wean them off of the drug.
He said, "Babies can have a lot of different problems. It can impact their eating, babies can cry quite a bit, difficult for our staff, they can become inconsolable."
Short-term they usually are able to get the babies healthy but often they see long term problems.
He said, "When you look at counties and places in United States, you can see which schools have more drug exposed babies. There are more issues in those schools, learning issues, behavioral problems."
He said Northwest Florida leaders are getting together on how to reduce the problem as well as increase prenatal care for mothers. He also said more needs to be done in regards to pain management to keep mothers from getting addicted in the first place.