Attorney General Pam Bondi News Release
April 19, 2013
Contact: Whitney Ray
Phone: (850) 245-0150
Attorney General Bondi, DCF Secretary Wilkins and Surgeon General Dr. Armstrong Announce Statewide Prescription Drug Abuse and Newborns Educational Initiative
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Attorney General Pam Bondi, Department of Children and Families Secretary David Wilkins, and Surgeon General Dr. John Armstrong today announced the launch of an educational website and a helpline as part of a statewide initiative to raise awareness about babies being born exposed to prescription drugs. BornDrugFreeFL.com and the helpline at 1-877-233-5656 are intended to educate expectant mothers about the importance of discussing prescription drug use with their doctors, as well as to offer assistance to the women. The first of many billboards across the state with the website and helpline is now up in Tallahassee, and it reads “Your baby’s life shouldn’t begin with detox.”
“I am proud that in less than one year of establishing the Statewide Task Force on Prescription Drug Abuse and Newborns, we are already implementing the strategies for preventing babies from being born exposed to prescription drugs,” stated Attorney General Pam Bondi. “I thank the Department of Children and Families and the Department of Health for their hard work on this educational initiative that will help protect Florida’s newborns.”
"Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome is 100 percent preventable, and we hope this campaign will prevent the suffering of thousands of newborns in Florida," DCF Secretary Wilkins said. "We are pleased to partner with Attorney General Bondi, Surgeon General Dr. Armstrong and the Task Force to spread awareness about this alarming epidemic."
"One baby born addicted to drugs is too many,” said State Surgeon General and Secretary of Health Dr. John Armstrong. "We will continue to work to protect the lives of Florida's newborns and promote healthy behaviors among expectant mothers."
Newborns exposed to prescription drugs while in the womb suffer from Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. Symptoms include: fever, seizures, blotchy skin, incessant shrill cries, respiratory problems, and extreme sensitivity to sounds and light. Approximately 7 out of every 1,000 Floridian babies born in 2011 were diagnosed with NAS.
Attorney General Pam Bondi worked with the Florida Legislature during the 2012 legislative session to create a Statewide Task Force on Prescription Drug Abuse and Newborns. She chaired the task force, which was charged with examining the scope of NAS, the costs associated with caring for babies with NAS, the long-term effects of NAS, and newly emerging strategies for preventing prescription drug abuse by expectant mothers.
This initiative is one of the Prescription Drug Abuse and Newborns Task Force’s recommendations intended to end NAS in Florida’s newborns. The Department of Children and Families took the lead role in executing this educational initiative. To view the website, visit BornDrugFreeFL.com, and to view the billboard, click here: http://borndrugfreefl.com/#about.