A Call to Action: Community Responds to Escalating Number of Newborns Born Exposed to Drugs

Media Advisory:
April 25, 2013

Contact: Nicole Stookey
Northwest Region Communications Director
(850) 509-2675

A Call to Action: Community Responds to Escalating Number of Newborns Born Exposed to Drugs
Medical and social services professionals convene to develop plans to address growing crisis

PENSACOLA— The number of babies born exposed to prescription drugs is growing at an alarming rate. In 2011, there were 1,563 instances of newborns diagnosed with drug exposure in Florida, a three-fold increase since 2007. These infants are born addicted and are admitted to the hospital for costly treatment and long hospital stays.

The Community Call to Action will bring awareness and education to the community on the escalating numbers of substance-exposed newborns in the community. A number of experts will share information on the scope of the problem locally, the effects of drugs on an unborn child, treating babies born to substance-using mothers, and caring for infants once they go home. Attendees will break into workgroups by geographic area to develop a community plan to address the growing crisis.

The conference is hosted by the Substance-Exposed Newborns Workgroup, which includes the Department of Children and Families, Community Drug and Alcohol Council, Sacred Heart Children’s and Women’s Hospital, Lakeview Center, Pathways for Change, Healthy Start Coalition, Children’s Home Society of Florida.

Last week, DCF Secretary David Wilkins, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Surgeon General Dr. John Armstrong announced the launch of the first educational tools in a statewide initiative to raise awareness about babies being born exposed to prescription drugs. BornDrugFreeFL.com and the helpline at 1-877-233-5656 are intended to educate expectant mothers about the importance of discussing prescription drug use with their doctors, as well as to offer assistance to the women.

Billboards featuring the "Born Drug-Free Florida" campaign will be on Cervantes Street at Palafox Street and 1-110 at Blount Street. These displays were made possible by the generosity of Lamar Outdoor.

WHAT: Substance-Exposed Newborns Community Call to Action

WHO: More than 140 medical and child welfare professionals, students, community providers, substance abuse treatment providers and concerned citizens from Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton counties.

WHEN: Friday, April 26, 8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Schedule of events are as follows:

  • 8:30-10 a.m.
    • Session A: “Sacred Heart Hospital’s Medical Protocol for Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome,” Drifa Freydottir, M.D.
    • Session B: “Substance-Exposed Newborns: A Growing Epidemic,” Irvin Williams, Ph.D.
  • 10:15-11:45 a.m.
    • Session C: “Methadone and Perinatal Outcomes,” Julie Decesare, M.D.
    • Session D: “What Should We Do for These Infants Once They Go Home?” Dixie Morgese
  • 1:15-2 p.m. – Keynote: “What Will a System of Care for Substance-Exposed Newborns Look Like?” Dixie Morgese
  • 2-3 p.m. – Community Workgroups

WHERE: Lakeview Center, 1221 Lakeview Ave., Pensacola