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Health collaborative to address neonatal abstinence syndrome

Caused by exposure to narcotics during pregnancy

FRANKFORT, Ky. (June 20, 2014) — The state’s maternal and child health leaders are working together to address the rising number of infants born with neonatal abstinence syndrome, a condition caused by exposure to narcotics during pregnancy. The initiative, the Kentucky Perinatal Quality Collaborative, brings together representatives from the Kentucky Department for Public Health, Kentucky Perinatal Association and the March of Dimes, among others.

In 2000, fewer than 30 infants in Kentucky were diagnosed with NAS, but in 2013 the number of cases was more than 950.

KPQCHeaderThe cost of care for the babies has grown from $190 million in 2000 to $720 million in 2009. Kentucky spent $40 million in 2012.

Results collected by the Kentucky Perinatal Quality Collaborative will provide information toward standardized treatments to improve the outcomes of mothers and children affected by NAS. Initially, the focus will be on interventions for hospitalized newborns with NAS, including medication and non-medical treatments.

“We recognize that the treatment of the infant is just the beginning of this process.  Ideally, we need to devise policies and interventions to assist the mother, before and after birth, aimed at reducing substance abuse and eliminating NAS in Kentucky,” said Scott Duncan, M.D., a neonatologist and board member of the Kentucky Perinatal Association. “This is not a problem that will go away overnight.”

Gov. Steve Beshear has made improving the health and wellness of Kentucky’s children, families and workforce one of his highest priorities, launching kyhealthnow in February as an aggressive and wide-ranging initiative to reduce incidents and deaths from Kentucky’s dismal health rankings and habits. It builds on Kentucky’s successful implementation of health care reform and uses multiple strategies over the next several years to improve the state’s collective health.

Addressing substance abuse is chief among the program’s list of goals, which target a 25 percent reduction in the number of deaths attributed to drug overdose.