State Task Force on drugs and newborns releases progress report

The Statewide Task Force on Prescription Drug Abuse and Newborns released their 2014 progress report with updates on their recommendations and alarming data on the quick rise of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome.

NAS ChartThe Task Force was formed in 2012 in response to the high rate of babies born with NAS. Northeast Florida has one of the highest rates in the state and Duval County has the highest number of newborns born with drug withdrawal — and the numbers are increasing each year.

The 15-member task force includes medical professionals, law enforcement and maternal and child health representatives from the March of Dimes and Florida Association of Healthy Start Coalitions.  They released their final report in February 2013 and will continue to meet through 2014.

Highlights from the progress report include:

  • Born Drug-Free Florida” campaign that features a helpline, website and an ad campaign.
  • NAS toolkits for nurses. The Florida Nurses Association has put together an NAS work group to develop an ongoing educational initiative with resources for nurses to assist women and their families with care.
  • Increased funding for treatment of mothers.

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.

Coalition Executive Director Jennifer Gornto sat down with Action News Jacksonville to talk about the impact it has on the community and the services we provide to help these moms and babies through Healthy Start and special initiatives like the Azalea and Magnolia projects. Watch here:

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. The Magnolia Project provides risk management services to women prior to pregnancy to mitigate risk factors when they have children.