A federal law requiring hospitals to report drug addicted moms to child protection services is largely ignored. This heartbreaking series by Reuters about the preventable deaths of drug-addicted babies ends includes ideas that can solve the problem. Reuters filed more than 200 Freedom of Information Act requests and reviewed almost 6000 child fatality reports to identify these cases.
Only 7 states specifically tracked referrals of newborns in drug withdrawal and only half the number of cases that were diagnosed were tracked in those states. Most states require reporting only babies exposed to illegal drugs – but prescription drug addiction is growing to become an even larger problem.
In 2005, 598,000 emergency drug related admissions included legal pharmaceutical overdoses. According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, teens who abuse prescription drugs are twelve to twenty times more likely to use illegal street drugs than those that don’t abuse prescription drugs.