In the Fight for Money for the Opioid Crisis, Will the Youngest Victims Be Left Out?

November 25, 2019

(NPR) – Babies born to mothers who used opioids during pregnancy represent one of the most distressing legacies of an opioid epidemic that has claimed almost 400,000 lives and ravaged communities.  In fact, many of the ongoing lawsuits filed against drug companies make reference to these babies, fighting through withdrawal in hospital nurseries. The cluster of symptoms they experience, which include tremors, seizures and respiratory distress, is known as neonatal abstinence syndrome. Until recently, doctors rarely looked for the condition. Then case numbers quadrupled over a decade. Hospital care for newborns with NAS has cost Medicaid billions of dollars. Studies indicate more than 30,000 babies with the condition are born every year in the U.S. — about one every 15 minutes.