Tennessee facing problem of addicted babies

Summary and Analysis…

Allowing babies to be born addicted to Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) drugs has physical and financial impacts. Withdrawing an addicted mother from opioids can be dangerous but maintaining the mother on MAT drugs can result in their babies being addicted to those drugs.

This is another example of unintended, but predictable, consequences attendant on the use of MAT drugs, a consequence that needs to be factored into community planning and budgets as well as decisions about whether programs should be aiming for drug-free rehabilitation or long-term maintenance.

Excerpted from WJHL

A September 26, 2017 report by Channel 11 News in Tennessee covered the problems the state faces treating babies born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). TennCare, the “state of Tennessee’s Medicaid program that provides health care for approximately 1.4 million Tennesseans”, paid for the birth of nearly 1,200 babies with NAS in 2015 according to the report.

It notes that “more than 600 babies have been born dependent on drugs, facing withdrawals the minute they enter this world. Babies born with NAS can come from moms on legal and illegal drugs.”

The report goes on to note that “leading pediatric journals say getting off opioids while pregnant causes severe stress to the mom and the baby and recommend keeping moms on opioids or medication assisted treatment while pregnant.” Apparently due in part to these guidelines, TennCare “pays for moms to continue opioid prescriptions while pregnant then pays about $44,000 for the birth of each baby born dependent on those drugs.”

Tennessee lawmakers are looking for ways to change the current cycle of addiction to help mothers, babies and lower the burden on the state.