When pregnant women take prescription medications or other drugs, their babies may be born dependent on those drugs. This condition is called Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). Babies born with NAS can suffer from withdrawal symptoms such as fever, seizures, blotchy skin, continuous crying, rapid breathing, respiratory problems, and extreme sensitivity to sounds and light. In many cases, doctors and nurses give these newborns methadone, the same drug used to treat heroin addiction, or morphine to ease their constant pain. Using alcohol while pregnant is also harmful and can lead to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS); marijuana and tobacco use can be harmful too. “Born Drug-Free Tennessee” is a campaign designed to provide support and resources to women during their pregnancy so she may become the parent she is proud to be. Read more about having a healthy baby here.
In 2014, approximately 1,000 Tennessee newborns were diagnosed with NAS; that equals 12.7 per 1,000 live births – and the epidemic is growing. In addition, newborns with NAS may require longer and more costly hospital stays, with treatments costing as much as ten times the amount of a healthy birth.
But there is hope. There are many ways to help women of child-bearing age and expectant mothers decrease or eliminate drug withdrawal for their baby.