Combat Opioid Addiction in Newborns

Target: Director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Tom Frieden

Goal: Fight back against opioid dependence affecting newborn babies.

There is currently a growing epidemic of opioid addiction in the U.S., and even newborns are being affected by this rising health concern. Many infants are born each year addicted to opiates and suffering from Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). With NAS causing serious danger to newborns across the country, it is essential that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) require all state health departments to report all instances of NAS so that  policymakers have the data they need to determine how to best address the problem of opioid dependency in the U.S.

NAS is a dangerous condition in which an infant is born dependent on opiates as a result of its mother using opioid drugs during pregnancy. Once born, the infants go through severe withdrawal symptoms leading to issues such as low birth weight, respiratory problems, and even death. Between 2000 and 2009, the rate of NAS increased from 1.2 to 3.4 per 1000 births. This increase is disturbing, and yet it is only an estimate because NAS is not required to be reported, therefore leaving  many cases undocumented. This lack of hard, empirical data makes it difficult for states to determine what sort of policies need to be implemented in order to address the problems of opiate addiction and NAS in their states.

Tennessee recently implemented a process in which every NAS birth is required to be reported within 30 days of diagnosis. This has resulted in real-time data that is helping the state create policies that can address the root problems leading to its high level of opiate addiction. NAS is a serious problem that needs to be addressed to help fight our nation’s increasing dependency on opioid drugs. Please sign the below petition to demand that all state health departments require the reporting of all NAS cases.


Dear Dr. Frieden,

As you probably know, the U.S. is facing an epidemic of opiod addiction. This growing health concern has spilled over into the infant population as many children are being born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), having to fight for their lives from day one. Even though we are aware that NAS is increasing, there is an unfortunate lack of concrete, empirical data to help doctors and policymakers determine how to best combat this growing problem. I am writing to request that the CDC begin requiring all state health departments to report all cases of NAS so that we can start addressing the root issues causing NAS and systemic opiod addiction.

While it may seem like a daunting task to require this documentation, we can look to Tennessee as a successful example of a state requiring 100 percent NAS reporting. In 2012, Tennessee had a huge increase in the instances of NAS in its hospitals, yet didn’t know how to combat this problem with the limited data available. As a result, the state health department implemented a mandatory reporting system in which all cases of NAS had to be reported within 30 days of diagnosis. The resulting data has helped the state pinpoint ways in which it can begin to actively address the underlying problems leading to the increase in NAS.

Opiate addiction has become a major issue in the U.S. and we need to do everything we can to find ways to combat it. With doctors and policymakers saying that real-time, accurate data is essential to the implementation of effective policies, it’s essential we start finding ways to supply that data. Please help fight NAS and opiate addiction by requiring all state health departments to report all cases of NAS.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Ceejayoz

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