October is Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Awareness Month


KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Over the last decade, the use of opioid pain relievers in the United States and Tennessee has increased rapidly. Accompanying that increase in drug use has been an increase in Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS).

NAS is a condition in which an infant experiences withdrawal from opioid substances the mother took during pregnancy. According to the Tennessee Department of Health, over the last decade, the incidence of NAS in Tennessee has increased by 15-fold, far exceeding the national increase (3-fold over the same time period).

Tennessee leaders are working to combat NAS by raising awareness through Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Awareness Month. On Monday, Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero and Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett kicked off the awareness month at Susannah’s House on Dameron Avenue.

Mayor Burchett said in 2015, 12 percent of cases of NAS were in Knox County. In 2015, there were 1,039 cases of NAS, a slight increase in 1,031 cases from 2014 and 936 cases in 2013. He pledged to help provide education for prevention and treatment resources.

Born Drug-Free Tennessee says that prenatal care is very important to decreasing the severity and duration of drug withdrawal the baby experiences. They encourage mothers that are drug dependent to involve a medical professional as early as possible.

If you do not yet have a doctor, click here to see a list of obstetricians near you or here for low-cost options in Tennessee. The Health Department provides access to Voluntary Reversible Long-Acting Contraceptives for women. If you would like information on how to prevent pregnancy if you are using opioid drugs, find your nearest health department here.

Renaissance Recovery also provides resources for pregnant women who need help. For more information visit their website or call (865) 474-1299. Women are encouraged to call an obstetrician specializing in high risk pregnancies.

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