The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is rolling out a comprehensive approach to combat opioid and heroin abuse, partnering with a long list of Knoxville, Tenn. organizations, including East Tennessee Children’s Hospital (ETCH). One consequence of the opioid epidemic remains its harm to children. “Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome has become a growing problem in East Tennessee and unfortunately we are the epicenter of this crisis,” said Kyle Cook, MEDNAX-affiliated neonatal nurse practitioner. In 2017, 251 out of the 805 babies admitted to the ETCH neonatal intensive care unit were dependent on medications, with at least 30 percent of all admitted babies suffering from withdrawal symptoms every year. “It is really difficult,” Cook said. “You feel helpless, because these babies are experiencing very similar symptoms to what adults experience, except that these are innocent victims. They had no control of what they were exposed to.”

View the full segment at WATE-TV


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