Leading Medical, Children’s and Women’s Health Groups Applaud House Passage of Protecting Our Infants Act of 2015

Bipartisan bill helps reduce number of newborns exposed to opioids, improve care for moms and babies

Washington, District of Columbia | Tuesday, September 8, 2015

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The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), and the March of Dimes commend the U.S. House of Representatives for passing the bipartisan Protecting Our Infants Act of 2015 (H.R. 1462) today.

The bipartisan bill, introduced by Rep. Katherine Clark (D- Mass.) and Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), takes proactive steps to help reduce the number of newborns born exposed to drugs, such as opioids, and to improve their care. Specifically, the bill directs the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to identify and make available recommendations for the prevention and treatment of prenatal opioid use disorders and diagnosis and treatment of NAS, evaluate and coordinate federal efforts to research and respond to NAS, and assist state health agencies with data collection.

Reports show the significant rise of opiate use and abuse has led to an alarming increase of babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). NAS refers to medical complications associated with drug withdrawal in newborns due to exposure to opioids or other drugs in utero. Babies born with NAS often need to be hospitalized for weeks, are difficult to console, and can suffer from seizures and other complications. There are no standardized guidelines for diagnosis and treatment for these newborns, and there is an urgent need for more research to optimize their health.

“Unprecedented numbers of U.S. newborns are suffering drug withdrawal after birth due to exposure to opioids in utero,” stated March of Dimes President Dr. Jennifer L. Howse. “Action is urgently needed to address the opioids crisis and its impact on infants. The March of Dimes commends the U.S. House of Representatives for passing this critically important legislation.”

“One infant is diagnosed with neonatal abstinence syndrome each hour, so there could not be a more urgent time to protect children and families affected by substance use and abuse,” said AAP President Sandra G. Hassink, MD, FAAP. “Pediatricians commend the House of Representatives for its swift bipartisan action to pass the Protecting Our Infants Act of 2015. This bill will provide help for our tiniest patients during this critical window of their development.”

“The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists applauds the House of Representatives for its bipartisan passage of the Protecting Our Infants Act as a major step toward addressing opioid use during pregnancy and giving women the care that is right for them,” said ACOG President, Mark S. DeFrancesco, MD. “The dangers of inappropriate drug and alcohol use at any time, especially during pregnancy, have long needed greater attention. Effective action must be taken to ensure a healthy outcome for both mother and baby while offering non-punitive, family-centered medical treatment.”

H.R. 1462 will now go to the U.S. Senate for consideration. An identical bill, S. 799, has been introduced in that chamber by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and has 19 additional bipartisan cosponsors. As organizations representing the nation’s pediatricians, obstetricians and gynecologists and members of the public who care about pregnant women and children, the AAP, ACOG and March of Dimes join together to support the legislation’s advancement.

About the American Academy of Pediatrics
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 64,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit aap.org or follow @AmerAcadPeds on Twitter and Facebook.

About the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College), a 501(c)(3) organization, is the nation’s leading group of physicians providing health care for women. As a private, voluntary, nonprofit membership organization of more than 58,000 members, The College strongly advocates for quality health care for women, maintains the highest standards of clinical practice and continuing education of its members, promotes patient education, and increases awareness among its members and the public of the changing issues facing women’s health care. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a 501(c)(6) organization, is its companion organization acog.org

About March of Dimes

March of Dimes leads the fight for the health of all moms and babies. We support research, lead programs and provide education and advocacy so that every baby can have the best possible start. Building on a successful 80-year legacy of impact and innovation, we empower every mom and every family.

Visit marchofdimes.org or nacersano.org for more information. Visit shareyourstory.org for comfort and support. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter.