SECOND GLANCE: The rising number of drug-exposed newborns

News continues to spread of the epidemic of babies born with drug dependence — the number has quadrupled in Florida over the last five years.

During National Infant Mortality Awareness Month, we reported on the rising number of newborns experiencing drug withdrawal in the region: Drug abuse takes toll on babies in Northeast Florida.

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. The proliferation of “pill mills” has been linked to this state epidemic.

The Florida Independent reported that despite the increase in babies born addicted to drugs, particularly prescription drugs, the state has cut funding to programs like Healthy Start that help pregnant women with addictions: Amid “pill mill” crackdown, budget cuts hit programs for drug-addicted women, babies.

Action News Jax highlighted the struggles of babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Units in Jacksonville. They spoke to a case manager with the Azalea Project, a special Healthy Start initiative that provides intensive servies to substance-abusing women: Born without a choice.