Statement of Stacey D. Stewart, President, March of Dimes on declaration of public health emergency on opioid epidemic

October 26, 2017

The March of Dimes released the following statement from President Stacey Stewart regarding the White House declaration of a public health emergency in the ongoing opioids epidemic:

“The March of Dimes commends President Trump for declaring a public health emergency in the opioid epidemic that has swept our nation, destroying the lives of countless Americans.  We must do everything in our power to end the scourge of opioid abuse. This is an important first step that must be followed up with a sustained effort, including additional federal funding.

“The March of Dimes urges our leaders to pay special attention to the toll of opioids on pregnant women and their children.  Use of opioids during pregnancy can cause infants to be born exposed to these drugs, who then experience the ravages of withdrawal in the first days and weeks of life.  It is imperative that we make it as easy as possible for pregnant women exposed to opioids to come forward and receive treatment.

“Too many opioid treatment programs refuse to treat pregnant women.  Instead, treatment of pregnant women should be a top priority to protect their health and the health of their babies.  While some progress is being made in this area, the federal government should target funding and other resources to this area to accelerate its pace. Moreover, policymakers should avoid punitive measures in favor of those that help women get the treatment they need.

“No infant should enter the world by experiencing drug withdrawal.  Pregnant women and their babies deserve to receive treatment and recovery support. The March of Dimes looks forward to working with the Administration in this critical effort to protect the health of all women and children.”