NAS Translates To Child Abuse

Babies born with opioid drugs in their systems can experience excruciating pain as their tiny bodies go through withdrawal. Neonatal abstinence syndrome, as it is called, can have lasting, adverse effects on the children’s health and intellectual development.

It happens because their mothers used opioid drugs during pregnancy.

And it happens right here at a truly sickening rate.

Many West Virginians have known about NAS for years. But it happens in other places much more than here, we thought. It was so bad in the Huntington area that a group of good Samaritans founded Lily’s Place there, solely to care for infants battling NAS. First lady Melania Trump visited there last fall.

A new report on NAS in the Mountain State indicates its frequency has increased.

Our area has some of the worst NAS rates in the state.

Rates of NAS are expressed in terms of prevalence per 1,000 live births. For Marshall County parents last year, the rate was 102.1 per 1,000.

More than one in 10 Marshall County babies born last year came into the world addicted to opioids. That was the second-highest rate in the state, behind only Lincoln County, at 106.6.

Two other Northern Panhandle counties had high NAS rates last year. Ohio County’s rate was 69.9. Wetzel County’s was 67.1.

Statewide last year, more than 50 of every 1,000 babies born suffered from NAS. What are we to do?

Clearly, whatever has been tried in the past has not worked. Counseling expectant mothers has been a dismal failure. Suggestions they might be deterred from abusing drugs during pregnancy with punishment if their babies are born with NAS are dismissed as cruel. Attempting to wean pregnant addicts off opioids has failed.

No longer is this someone else’s problem.

These are our babies, born to mothers right here in the Northern Panhandle.

So what are we to do?

We simply must find something that works to prevent this child abuse, which is occurring on a massive scale.