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Ind. AG supports legislation to diagnose babies with NAS

By Bryan Cohen | Feb 21, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS (Legal Newsline) - Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller and the Indiana Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force voiced their support on Wednesday for legislation meant to help babies withdrawing from drugs.

Newborns diagnosed with neonatal abstinence syndrome were exposed to drugs while in the mother's womb and may suffer withdrawal symptoms. Such symptoms include feeding difficulties, respiratory complications, low birth weight and seizures.

The overall rate of newborns diagnosed with NAS tripled in the past decade. In 2009, approximately one infant born per hour in the U.S. showed signs of drug withdrawal.

"Our public health experts - the doctors, nurses, medical professionals and regulatory authorities - believe that Indiana should do a more consistent and comprehensive job of screening for neonatal abstinence syndrome, in order to promote better health and treatment outcomes for babies born dependent," Zoeller said. "In order to accomplish this task, we need to establish a standard protocol for diagnosing NAS, collecting data on it, and confidentially reporting it to the Indiana State Department of Health."

Proposed legislation authored by Sen. Vaneta Becker, R-Evansville, would require development of a standard NAS protocol. Zoeller said that Indiana does not adequately track NAS cases, hindering the medical community from identifying the true scope of the problem and coming up with better treatment options.

Senate Bill 408 will be up for a vote during the next meeting of the House Committee on Family, Children and Human Affairs on Monday.

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