Horry County in South Carolina has led the state the past three years in total number of babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) at eight babies per 1,000 births. And according to the Journal of the American Medical Association, the rate has been trending upward nationally. Infants born with NAS are physically dependent on opiates and other drugs after being exposed to the illicit substances while still in the womb. “A baby with NAS is stiff as a board,” said MEDNAX-affiliated neonatologist, Dr. Douglas Moeckel, at McLeod Health Loris. “The babies can fail to thrive if they’re spending all their energy shaking and crying,” Moeckel added.

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