Central Florida sees uptick in newborns exposed to opioids

Brian Zimmerman - Print  | 

Orange County Florida has seen a significant increase in infants born with neonatal abstinence syndrome — a condition that stems from women using opioids during pregnancy, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

In 2015, nearly 1 percent of all infants in Orange County were born with the syndrome, which causes symptoms like seizures, sweating and vomiting. The 249 babies born with the condition in 2015 marks a significant increase from the 158 total in 2014. The current numbers reflect a 10-fold increase in such births in the county over the last 10 years, according to the Sentinel.

Douglas Hardy, MD, clinical director of the neonatal intensive care unit at Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies in Orlando, is working with local agencies to address the issue, which goes beyond caring for sick newborns.

"It's a huge public health issue," said Dr. Hardy, according to the Sentinel. "It's easy to get people behind a program that helps treat babies. And I get that. But it's a lot harder to get people behind programs for drug addiction."

Nationwide, the number of infants born with this condition has quadrupled in the last 15 years, according to the CDC.

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Massachusetts governor cuts $150,000 in opioid abuse funds for Lynn

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