Born Drug Free Florida initiative aims to prevent Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

Born Drug Free Florida is a new initiative started by the Florida Department of Children and FamiliesFlorida Office of Attorney General and the Florida Department of Health to prevent occurrences of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) in Florida through the use of education and assistance.

NAS affects babies born to mothers who ingested prescription medications and other drugs and alcohol during their pregnancy. Babies diagnosed with NAS are born battling withdrawal symptoms from drugs and/or alcohol. These symptoms can range from blotchy skin with a fever, to extreme sensitivity to light and sound, to respiratory problems and seizures.

In 2011, an estimated seven out of every 1,000 babies in Florida were born with NAS. The year before, nine out of every 1,000 newborns in Northeast Florida were reported born with withdrawal symptoms.

Born Drug Free Florida hopes to put an end to the number of babies born with NAS by urging women to talk to their doctors about all medications they may be taking. The campaign also offers screening education for friends, family and practitioners to recognize the signs of drug abuse and how to respond properly.

Locally, the Azalea Project, a special Healthy Start initiative addresses this issue by providing outreach, education and support to substance-abusing pregnant and parenting women. Services are available to women with a history of substance abuse and those current abusers.