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A task force of doctors, legislators and public health advocates in Florida are set to make recommendations to reduce the number of newborns exposed to opioids.

The task force, formed by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, is charged with defining the severity of the problem and devising solutions. The group’s recommendations are likely to be adopted in January, according to the Sun-Sentinel. They include $22 million for more residential treatment services and substance abuse intervention; an educational campaign about the dangers of using prescription drugs during pregnancy; education for medical professionals; and legislation that would protect women seeking treatment.

One recommendation would bar child welfare services from automatically taking away a baby from a woman if she seeks treatment for an addiction to prescription drugs. The task force decided against proposing mandatory drug screening for all pregnant women, the article notes.

In October, experts told the task force the state needs more resources to help the many newborns exposed to opioids. 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. These babies suffer symptoms of withdrawal, including shaking, inconsolable crying, skin rashes, vomiting and diarrhea.


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