As the opioid epidemic continues to grip Arizona and the nation, there is another population that’s being negatively affected by this crisis — the babies born to addicted mothers. A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the number of women with opioid use disorder who are showing up at labor and delivery units around the country has quadrupled from 1999 to 2014. And that is having far-reaching effects — for those mothers and babies, as well as for local hospitals and the broader healthcare system. “We’re seeing just a huge increase in babies who are born drug-exposed and having the effects with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS),” said Dr. Nathan Lepp, MEDNAX-affiliated neonatologist at Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix. “Those babies get admitted to the NICU, and they often need treatment for a prolonged period of time, from days to weeks. It affects how they do, how they develop. And it certainly has a profound effect on the families as well because now you have a baby who is stuck in the hospital for a period of time, so it has effects across the board – not just in the short term but the long term for babies, moms and families.”

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