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Our opinion: Offering assistance for addictions

Two Warren parents have been charged with administering suboxone to a 2-year-old girl who was suffering from withdrawal from suboxone caused by use during the mother’s pregnancy as well as breast feeding.

Warren County ranks roughly in the middle of the commonwealth for rate of neonatal abstinence syndrome per 1,000 babies in 2016-17 at 13.8 births per 1,000, according to a report by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council. Neighboring McKean County has a rate of 24.4 NAS births per 1,000 while Crawford County has a rate of 31.8 NAS births per 1,000. The latest count released by Pennsylvania officials shows 2,140 such cases throughout the commonwealth in 2019.

Babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome quickly go into withdrawal after they are born, resulting in intense pain which commonly causes them to cry incessantly, tremble and sweat.

They often face assorted other medical problems, including low birth weight, difficulty in feeding and developmental problems. Babies going through withdrawal often have to be given opioids to wean them from their addiction, and often spend about 16 days in the hospital after birth compared to 3.4 days for other babies.

This is a problem that can only be solved by treatment, an approach that benefits both the mother and the child. According to a September Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services bulletin, Medicaid allows enough program flexibility to allow states to develop programs to help.

Pennsylvania should do what it can to use its Medicaid dollars to help these addicted mothers and their children.

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