Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome
Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) occurs when a baby is exposed to drugs in the womb before birth, causing it to be born dependent on those drugs. In the 2014 state NAS report, Knox County had the highest percentage (11 percent) of NAS cases.
Babies born with NAS can suffer from withdrawal symptoms such as fever, sweating, rapid breathing, poor feeding or feeding intolerance, high-pitched crying, inconsolability, tremors, and seizures.
In addition to the heartbreaking human cost, the average monetary cost to stabilize a newborn with NAS is nearly $63,000 versus just $7,000 to stabilize a newborn not suffering withdrawals. The Tennessee Department of Health estimates that from January to October 13, 2013, NAS cost the state more than $36 million.
What KCHD is doing
The Knox County Health Department (KCHD) works across the community to empower women with factual information about the dangers of drug use during pregnancy. We partner with various community agencies to connect at-risk women with the services they need as they focus on their recovery and pregnancy outcomes. We also conduct a communitywide health assessment every few years that identifies our county’s priority health issues. Maternal, Infant and Child Health as well as Substance Use were two of the 20 priority issues identified in our 2014/2015 assessment. Click here to learn more.
Resources and Help Available for Those Affected
If you are pregnant and use substances, please click here to learn more about the resources and support available to help you. It is important to talk to a medical professional about all the medications you are taking, including prescription pain pills. By talking to a medical professional before your pregnancy, you can reduce the chances of your baby being born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please click here for more information about treatment programs in our community.