Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has announced a plan to drastically reduce the number of “crack babies” born in the state.
In 2010, more than 25 percent of the babies at a Tampa hospital were born with neonatal withdrawal syndrome, according to an investigation conducted by News Press.
Most of the babies were either addicted to Methadone, Percocet or Oxycontin. In result of the rising numbers, one Tampa Bay area television station even dubbed the babies as “Oxytots.”
According to the findings of a three-year investigation by “News Press,” 109 Florida hospital discharge records show that between 2005 and 2009 there was a 275 percent increase, with 1,000 newborns born with neo-natal withdrawl syndrome. With Florida often being referred to as the “pill-mill” capital, Gov. Rick Scott’s administration fears the increase in the percentage of babies being born with neonatal withdrawal syndrome.
Neonatal withdrawal syndrome causes a collection of problems in newborns when exposed to drugs while still in the womb. Symptoms range from chills, extreme sensitivity to light and sound, respiratory
problems and seizures.
Bondi, along with other state legislators, is proposing the ‘Statewide Task Force on Prescription Drug Abuse and Newborns’ to tackle the emerging issue.
The purpose of the task force is to examine the root of the problem, the long-term effects of the babies born with this syndrome and other drug -preventing strategies for mothers.
“We want to make Florida the prototype to fight this before it becomes the next crack baby epidemic,” said Bondi.
Fearing the epidemic’s growth, Bondi said the costs associated with caring for the newborns may continue to rise along with other health threats.
Gov. Rick Scott and Bondi are advocates of a future statewide drug trafficking database that will closely monitor Florida’s drug
distribution as well as more intense law enforcement.
“I agree with this becoming the next ‘crack baby epidemic’ because prescription drugs are so prevalent in the community,” said Christy Denson, a senior political science student. “People fail to look at the affects they can have.”
During the 1980s and 1990s there were a slew of babies being born addicted to cocaine and coined the phrase, “crack babies.”
Other advocates are Sen. Joe Negron and Rep. Kelli Stargel who are sponsoring Senate Bill 402 and House Bill. sponsoring Senate Bill 402 and House Bill 227.
Florida’s current legislation has made it difficult to crack down on the peddling of prescription drugs, in result making the state the center of prescription drug abuse. State leaders hope the bill would ultimately reverse the rising epidemic.
“I look forward to doing everything we can to make sure newborns in Florida begin life in good health,” said Sen. Joe Negron.
If the pills are passed and made law, the findings would be released as early as January 2013.