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Florida Needs More Resources to Help Babies Exposed to Opioids, Experts Say

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Florida needs more resources to help the many newborns exposed to opioids, experts told a statewide task force. They said the number of such babies far exceeds the number of treatment beds available for mothers addicted to prescription drugs, and their newborns.

For example, in Duval County, Florida, 113 babies were born with neonatal withdrawal syndrome in 2010, but only 13 treatment beds were available, the Sun-Sentinel reports. These babies suffer symptoms of withdrawal, including shaking, inconsolable crying, skin rashes, vomiting and diarrhea.

Florida’s Targeted Outreach for Pregnant Women Act is severely underfunded, with just $1 million allocated, according to state Representative Dana Young, a member of the Statewide Task Force on Prescription Drug Abuse & Newborns. The task force was formed by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. It is charged with defining the severity of the problem and devising solutions.

“The task force will draft a recommended policy designed to address the problem that will be sent to the legislature after the first of the year and will hopefully serve as a model for the rest of the country,” Bondi said.

Earlier this year, hospitals on the west coast of Florida reported a rise in the number of newborns exposed to opioids.

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