Kentucky’s maternal and child health leaders are banding together to address the growing problem of neonatal abstinence syndrome.
The condition caused by early exposure to narcotics during pregnancy.
The initiative – dubbed the Kentucky Perinatal Quality Collaborative – is bringing together the Kentucky Dept. of Public Health, the Kentucky Perinatal Association, and the March of Dimes to help combat the rise of the syndrome so closely tied to the state’s drug problems.
"In the year 2000, there were fewer than 30 infants diagnosed with neonatal abstinence syndrome in Kentucky. For the year 2013, that number was more than 950, so you can see the problem has really worsened over the years and t's now a major public health concern," says Beth Fisher with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
Health experts also say the syndrome is fueling another kind of increase – with the annual costs spent on treating the illness jumping $530 million dollars nationally since 2000.
Figures show Kentucky spending close to $40 million in 2012.