Protecting Our Infants Act

Latest News: President Obama signed the Protecting Our Infants Act on November 25. The new law will help prevent and treat babies exposed to opioids in utero.

Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) refers to cases in which newborns experience drug withdrawal shortly after birth due to drug exposure in utero. NAS is a devastating condition, and it is on the rise all over the country, coinciding with a surge in the use of opioids. Opioid prescription rates have risen dramatically over the past several years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in some states there are as many as 96 to 143 prescriptions for opioids per 100 adults per year. Preventing inappropriate opioid use among pregnant women and women of childbearing age is important to protect the health of both mother and infant. Research has shown that the use or abuse of opioids during pregnancy is associated with a significantly increased risk of poor birth outcomes, such as low birthweight. Between 2000 and 2009, the number of mothers found to be using opioids during pregnancy increased from 1.19 to 5.63 per 1,000 US hospital births. In that same time period, NAS diagnoses increased from 1.20 to 3.39 per 1000 hospital births per year.

To address this growing problem, on March 19th, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), and Representatives Katherine Clark (D-MA) and Steve Stivers (R-OH) introduced S. 799/H.R. 1462, the Protecting Our Infants Act of 2015. This legislation will support efforts to collect and disseminate strategies and best practices to prevent and treat maternal opioid use and abuse, as well as provide recommendations for diagnosing and treating babies suffering from withdrawal. The Protecting Our Infants Act will also identify the gaps in current research related to NAS and the long-term consequences of in-utero drug exposures. The March of Dimes would like to thank you for all your work telling Congress how important this issue is to families across our country – this victory wouldn't have happened without you!

For more information, check out the following resources:          

  • Protecting Our Infants Act Fact Sheet, May 2015 
  • Coalition NAS Support Letter to House E&C Subcommittee on Health, June 25, 2015
  • U.S. Senate Dear Colleague Letter, Co-Sponsor Protecting Our Infants Act, May 2015
  • U.S. House Dear Colleague Letter, Co-Sponsor Protecting Our Infants Act, May 2015
  • March of Dimes Letter of Support for Protecting Our Infants Act of 2015, H.R. 1462, March 18, 2015
  • March of Dimes Letter of Support for Protecting Our Infants Act of 2015, S. 799, March 18, 2015



See also: 
Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome and Advocacy and Government Affairs Issues and Advocacy Priorities.