Task Force Complete Study On Infant Opioid Exposure

The state’s Interagency Task Force on Newborns with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome – created through the FY2017 state budget – issued its final report this week that assesses existing services and programs in the commonwealth for mothers and newborns with neonatal abstinence syndrome, identifies service gaps, and formulates a plan for collecting data, developing goals, and addressing gaps in service.

Numerous hospital and other provider groups participated in the task force’s survey or served on its advisory council.  While various providers have their own programs set up to assist the affected population, the report found that there is inconsistency in collecting data from the various groups, in sharing data between them, and in following set standards for care.  Among its many recommendations, the task force endorses universal prenatal and neonatal screening for opioids.

According to the study, the rate of reported prenatal opiate exposure in Massachusetts rose from 2.6 per 1,000 hospital births in 2004 to 14.7 in 2013 – an increase of more than 500%. However, based on hospitalization figures, researchers estimated a higher rate; that is, about 17.5 per 1,000 hospital births or more than 1,300 Massachusetts babies were born with heroin and other opioids in their system in 2013. Nationally, the figure is five babies out of every 1,000 births.