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Pam Bondi offers ideas to help save Florida's drug-addicted babies

6:03 PM, Feb 4, 2013   |    comments
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Tallahassee, Florida -- Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi says babies born to drug-addicted moms will have a better chance of surviving if Florida moves ahead with a new plan addressing the problem.

Bondi released the final report of the Statewide Task Force on Prescription Drug Abuse and Newborns on Monday. The group has been working for the past year to come up with ideas to deal with the growing problem of drug-addicted babies.

Pam Bondi's mission to help drug-addicted babies

Babies suffering Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome can suffer from severe withdrawal symptoms, including tremors, abdominal pain, and sometimes seizures.

Bondi calls it a spiraling problem. More than 1,500 babies were affected in Florida hospitals in 2011. That represents a three-fold increase since 2007 and doctors believe many more cases go unreported.

The task force's report offers 15 specific recommendations on prevention, intervention and treatment, including voluntary drug screening of pregnant patients at OBGYN offices.

Florida Surgeon General Dr. John Armstrong is on the task force. He says he's excited about the report because it helps coordinate public and private efforts against the problem.

"It doesn't focus on general recommendations. It's very specific and most of them have metrics associated so we'll know that we're making progress."

Bondi says the hard part comes now to make sure state lawmakers understand the recommendations and take action to implement them.

"It's going to be on all of us to see that our ideas and thoughts and all the hard work that went into this is being implemented and I think it's just a great example of how working together. We've really set the groundwork to solve this complex social problem."

The report also encourages Florida to conduct a statewide public awareness campaign about the dangers of using prescription drugs during pregnancy.

Dave Heller