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The number of newborn babies exposed to prescription painkillers is on the rise, USA Today reports. The babies’ mothers are addicted to opioids such as oxycodone or hydrocodone.

“I’m scared to death this will become the crack-baby epidemic,” Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi told the newspaper.

In October, she announced a legislative proposal to create a Statewide Task Force on Prescription Drug Abuse and Newborns. According to a news release, the task force will examine the scope of the problem, the costs associated with caring for babies with neonatal withdrawal syndrome, the long-term effects of the syndrome, and strategies for preventing prescription drug abuse by expectant mothers.

The article notes nationwide statistics about the number of babies who go through opioid withdrawal are not available, but scattered state reports indicate the number has soared. In Florida, for example, the number of babies with withdrawal syndrome rose from 354 in 2006 to 1,374 in 2010.

Maine has seen a large increase in the number of newborns exposed to opioids. More than 570 babies were born in Maine in 2010 to mothers who used prescription painkillers. That number has tripled in six years.


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