U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced legislation today aimed at improving the quality of care provided to newborn babies suffering from opioid withdrawal.
Opioid use during pregnancy can cause a newborn baby to experience the painful effects of a drug-withdrawal syndrome known as Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, or NAS. Babies suffering from NAS often experience painful withdrawal symptoms such as high-pitched cries, convulsions, fever and vomiting; and often require extended time in the hospital as they recover from prenatal exposure to opioids.
To better treat and care for the thousands of babies born in America each year with NAS, researchers first need to better understand the cause and effects of this heart-breaking syndrome. To help researchers collect the data they need, Nelson and Rubio’s legislation will provide states additional funding to track, analyze and research babies born with NAS.
“When you see an opioid-dependent baby, your heart just cries out,” Nelson said. “This bill will help us better understand this heart-breaking syndrome and what needs to be done to provide these innocent children with the best care possible.”
“The opioid crisis is wreaking havoc, destroying families and taking lives across our state and nation. Congress must fulfill its commitment to those dealing with opioid addiction, especially innocent babies born with an addiction,” said Rubio. “Our bill will help do that by ensuring we have the necessary tools to care for newborns facing opioid addiction. I’m pleased that the HELP committee has included language from our bill in its larger opioid effort, the Opioid Crisis Response Act, and look forward to getting our bill signed into law.”
Every 25 minutes, a baby is born suffering from opioid withdrawal, according to the National Institutes of Health. In 2016 alone, more than 4,200 babies in Florida were born with an opioid dependency.
A copy of the bill is available here. It now heads to the Senate HELP committee for consideration.