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Project to help pregnant mothers kick heroin, prescription drugs

TNS Regional News • Aug 30, 2013 at 2:07 PM

With the number of drug-addicted newborns on the rise, Gov. John Kasich’s administration today announced a new initiative to help pregnant mothers kick heroin and prescription-drug habits.

The $4.2 million Maternal Opiate Medical Support Project aims to improve the health of mothers and newborns and reduce the cost of extended hospital stays for babies born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, a disorder found in newborns exposed to drugs. Babies born with the condition often suffer from drug withdrawal, respiratory complications, low birth weight, feeding difficulties and seizures.

“In the midst of Ohio’s opiate epidemic, it is easy for us to forget that there are some individuals who are experiencing the effects of this addiction who never chose to use drugs—babies born to opiate addicted mothers,” said Tracy Plouck, director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

“It is important to give children the best start in life that we can.”

The initiative also should reduce health-care costs for taxpayers as most of these births are paid by Medicaid, Ohio’s insurance program for the poor and disabled.

According to the Ohio Hospital Association, treatment for newborns impacted by Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome cost more than $70 million and nearly 19,000 days in hospitals in 2011. That year there were 1,649 admissions – about five per day – to both inpatient and outpatient facilities.

Under a three-year pilot project, about 200 mothers and babies will receive drug-addiction counseling and treatment, along with non-clinical services including housing, transportation and babysitting during medical or treatment appointments.

State officials estimate the project will reduce infant stays in Neo-Natal Intensive Care Units by 30 percent.


By Catherine Candisky - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)

©2013 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)

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