Pubdate: Thu, 25 Jan 2018
Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune (FL)
Copyright: 2018 Sarasota Herald-Tribune
Author: Dale White


Health advocates are hopeful the 2017 numbers will show a decline.

Across Florida the number of babies born to opioid-addicted mothers
spiked in 2016.

According to the state's Agency for Health Care Administration, 1,903
infants at Florida hospitals suffered from neonatal abstinence
syndrome in 2014. That number climbed to 2,487 in 2015 and to 4,215 in

At Sarasota Memorial Hospital, babies suffering from opioid addiction
withdrawal numbered 67 in 2014, jumped to 110 in 2015 and peaked at
114 in 2016.

Manatee Memorial Hospital reported 65 infants with the syndrome in
2014. That number rose to 76 in 2015 and declined to 70 in 2016.

While the state hit a record high for opioid-addicted babies in 2016,
it also saw a record high that year for opioid-related deaths among
all ages. According to a Florida Medical Examiners report, the state
experienced 5,725 opioid-related deaths that year " an increase
of 1,483 or 35 percent compared with 2015.

"It certainly is a concern for our state as it is
nationally,” Sharon Kramer, executive director of Drug Free
Manatee, said Thursday " referring specifically to the neonatal

Figures for 2017 have yet to be calculated. "I don't know what
our outcomes will show yet," Kramer said. Yet she and others are hopeful 
they will see the beginning of a downward trend in addicted infants.

Babies with the syndrome have typical "withdrawal symptoms," Kramer 
said. They have difficulty sucking, clench their hands, experience 
tremors and often have "piercing screams," she noted.

Other symptoms can include respiratory problems, sweating, vomiting,
skin irritation, dehydration and diarrhea.

The infants, who can have low birth weights and be born prematurely,
may have to remain hospitalized for two weeks or more.

According to a 2010 local study provided by Drug Free Manatee, the
average hospitalization cost for a newborn in Sarasota was $4,232
- - but for an addicted newborn rose to $23,372. In Manatee, the
average cost for a newborn was $3,654 but for an addicted newborn came
to $21,228.

The Addiction Support and Pregnancy coalition launched by Sarasota
Memorial Healthcare System and Drug Free Manatee partner with Healthy
Start, drug treatment programs, Florida Department of Health and
others in their respective communities to lower the local numbers of
opioid-addicted infants. They reach out to pregnant women and women of
child-bearing age who may seek methadone treatment or other help with
their addictions.
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