Babies addicted to opioids – methadone, heroin and oxycodone – have doubled since 2010, according to a story by the News-Press in Fort Myers.
Using newly obtained hospital records, the newspaper found 2,487 Florida newborns showed signs of drug withdrawal or were otherwise affected by exposure to narcotics in 2015.
That is an increase from 1,903 the previous year and 1,336 reported in 2010, according to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration.
When babies are born addicted to opiates it is a condition known as neonatal abstinence syndrome. A recent state report noted that hospital charges for such patients average more than $53,000 – a bill commonly sent to taxpayer-supported Medicaid plans.
Neonatal intensive care unit staff in Southwest Florida commonly see a half dozen babies any given day.
“When I first started, you’d see maybe one occasionally,” said Heather Polland, a supervising nurse in the Golisano NICU. “Now, we could have four, five, six, seven sometimes.”