Report Finds that 1,800 Pennsylvania Babies Born Addicted

A new report finds that during a 12-month period, about 1,800 babies entered this world dependent on addictive drugs, or about 14 of every 1,000 babies born in the state. The report from the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4) focuses on a one-year period ending in late 2018. If there is any good news in the report, it is that the data show a leveling off after rising each of the last 15 years. The report shows wide variation by county with, for example, rural Elk County with the highest rate of 63 per 1,000 births, Philadelphia County at about 14 per 1000 births, and Bradford County with only six addicted babies per 1000. Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) results in higher rates of respiratory distress and premature birth compared to other babies, with NAS babies averaging 16 days in the hospital, compared to 3.4 for other births. The report also found that the highest rate of NAS babies involved whites (18 out of 1,000 babies), and rates of 9.5 per 1,000 among blacks and 6.2 per 1,000 among Hispanics. About 90% of the hospital costs of NAS babies are borne by Medicaid. Read more.