Pam Bondi wants task force for babies born addicted to prescription drugs

8:35 AM, Oct 6, 2011   |    comments
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Attorney General Pam Bondi wants lawmakers to create a task force on babies born addicted to their mothers' prescription drugs.

Bondi said Wednesday that it's a burgeoning problem associated with the growth in prescription drug abuse. She said it could be "the next crack baby epidemic."

Bondi is supporting legislation creating the high-level panel. It would include her and other top state leaders. The group would recommend solutions focusing on prevention and education.

Bondi said it's a public health rather than law enforcement matter. Some mothers don't realize they are endangering their babies.

Janet Tursi, the Director of Obstetrics at Good Samaritan Medical Center in West Palm Beach, says she's seeing more cases of babies born addicted due to their mother's pain pill habit.

"Where years ago it was more the illegal drugs, we are seeing more and more of the prescription pills and the babies having the signs and symptoms of withdrawl," said Tursi.

The babies show various symptoms.

"They get jittery, they're fussy, they're irritable. They have feeding intolerance," said Tursi.

But sometimes, says Tursi, the symptoms don't show up until the baby gets home. There's also the problem of moms acknowledging an addiction.

"They've gotten a prescription from their physician and they feel, 'well, he knows about it, he gave it to me, it will be okay.' And they don't realize it really can affect the baby, and does affect the baby," said Tursi.

Doctors say addicted infants must continue to receive narcotics after birth and then slowly withdraw. They say later they may suffer learning disabilities and behavioral problems. 

State health records indicate in the first half of 2010, more than 600 babies were born addicted in Florida.

AP /

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