Hospital maternity units and new-born care nurseries would have to report the number of infants born addicted to drugs under a bill headed to Ohio’s governor. The state Senate unanimously passed the measure Wednesday, and Gov. John Kasich was expected to sign it.
The measure is one of several aimed at reducing the state’s prescription painkiller addiction epidemic. Supporters say tracking the number of drug-addicted babies will help the state monitor Ohio’s progress in fighting drug addiction.
The facilities would be required to report the information to the state Health Department every three months. Patients would not be identified, and the information could not be used for law enforcement purposes. Should a maternity unit, maternity home or new-born care nursery fail to comply with the requirement, the state could impose a fine or revoke or suspend its license.
Overdose drug deaths have been the leading cause of accidental death in Ohio since 2007, surpassing car crashes. Many of those deaths are from painkillers and heroin.
Opiates and narcotics taken by the mother during pregnancy can pass through the placenta through the baby, causing the infant to be born dependent on harmful drugs. The babies experience neonatal abstinence syndrome and face an array of health complications, said state Sen. Shannon Jones, a Springboro Republican.
“These new-borns are thrown into painful withdrawal symptoms, such as rapid breathing, vomiting and seizures immediately following their birth,” she said. Jones told her colleagues on the Senate floor that she had witnessed children withdrawing. “It is the most horrifying thing that I have personally experienced,” she said.
Caring for the drug-addicted new-borns and mothers, who are often on Medicaid, can be costly to the system. Jones said officials hope to use the information to help measure opiate and illegal drug abuse across the state and better target resources to help women and babies struggling from addiction.
Source: www.sfgate.com Wednesday, April 2, 2014