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Number of Babies Born With Drug Withdrawal Skyrocketed in Ohio in the Last Decade

Neonatal abstinence syndrome occurs when a baby is exposed to addictive opiates, such as heroin or oxycodone, while in the mother's womb.

The number of babies born with drug withdrawal is eight times the rate of 10 years ago. As Statehouse correspondent Andy Chow reports, the sharp climb is a direct result of Ohio’s opioid epidemic.

Babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome, or NAS, experience symptoms ranging from low birth weight to seizures.

In 2006, 20 infants were born with NAS for every 10,000 live births. In 2015, that number skyrocketed to 155 infants per 10,000 live births.

Rick Massatti of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services says this growth mirrors the other alarming increases in opioid abuse.

“We don’t want to accept this as the new normal; we don’t want to accept this as the status quo," he says.

Massatti points to theMaternal Opiate Medical Support, or MOMS, a program that helps expectant mothers who are addicted. The state has requested for federal funding for the program.  

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.