This week the Journal of the American Medical Association released the first-of-its-kind study on prescription drug abuse and newborns. We now have national data spanning nearly a decade that clearly shows an alarming upward trend of babies being born addicted to prescription drugs. The report states that between 2000 and 2009 there was a three-fold increase in the number of babies diagnosed with neonatal abstinence syndrome.
Over the past year, I have heard stories of babies being born addicted to prescription drugs in Florida. After visiting a NICU in Tampa and seeing babies suffering through withdrawal, I knew that we needed to tackle this crisis before it continued to worsen. This legislative session, I worked closely with Senator Joe Negron and Representative Kelli Stargel on a bill to create a Statewide Task Force on Prescription Drug Abuse and Newborns. Two weeks ago, I convened the first Task Force meeting.
This Task Force is comprised of dedicated people who will fully assess the prevalence of this problem and develop prevention strategies. The meeting was a major step forward in protecting newborns from prescription drug abuse. I believe that we can become a model for the country on how to approach this devastating health epidemic and protect newborns.