Drug abuse takes toll on babies in Northeast Florida

National Infant Mortality Awareness Month

Abuse of both legal and illicit drugs during pregnancy is taking its toll on babies born in Northeast Florida and the state, according to new data from the Agency for Health Care Administration. In 2010, nearly nine out of every 1,000 babies born in Jacksonville and the four surrounding counties experienced newborn withdrawal, compared to six out of every 1,000 statewide.


Source: Hospital discharge data provided by the state Agency for Health Care Administration, 2010.

This represents a four-fold increase in substance-affected infants since 2005. The proliferation of “pill mills” has been linked to this state epidemic. More than 110 newborns were treated for withdrawal symptoms in Duval County in 2010, the third highest number among counties statewide. Babies can spend days and even weeks detoxing.

In response, the Florida March of Dimes and Florida Association of Healthy Start Coalitions are working to develop a strategic plan to address this issue. Task forces are reviewing data and best practices for prevention, treatment, child development, pregnancy and third trimester opioid dependency. Azalea Project coordinator Faye Johnson represents the Coalition on the state group.