Law aims to help drug-dependent newborns


They’re some of the youngest victims of America’s drug crisis -- babies.

Now, a new law is on the books, aiming to protect drug-dependent newborns and help their parents.

Representative Marcy Kaptur, (D) Ohio, said, “If they care about life, this is an arena where we need a lot of attention.”

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, every 25 minutes, a baby is born with opioid withdrawal. It’s just one consequence of America’s drug crisis.

Republican Representative Evan Jenkins, West Virginia, agrees, “Just imagine starting your life out with the tremors, the shakes, the sensitivity to light, to touch, to sound.”

Representatives Kaptur and Jenkins sit on opposite sides of the aisle. But they both represent some of the hardest-hit areas in the country for drug abuse.

“Ohio is one of the top 10 states in terms of the number of drug addicted babies and drug addicted moms,” Kaptur said.

Kaptur was a cosponsor on Jenkins' bill, The Nurturing and Supporting Healthy Babies Act. It passed in Congress as a part of larger drug reform package.

President Obama signed it into law. Now, these lawmakers say, families will see help almost immediately.

“We will see as time goes by, the reports issued, the models more clearly identified, the regulatory burdens identified, broken down,” Jenkins said.

The law expands research of babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) - or exposure to opioids during pregnancy. It also directs the Government Accountability Office to identify any federal obstacles to care for these newborns, Help, these lawmakers say, was a long time coming.

H.R.4978 - 114th Congress - Nurturing and Supporting Healthy Babies Act or the NAS Healthy Babies Act

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