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TN hospitals report 350 drug-dependent newborns so far this year

9:21 PM, Jun 25, 2013   |    comments
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(WBIR, Knoxville) So far this year, 350 newborns in Tennessee have been born dependent on powerful drugs taken during pregnancy.

State health officials say it's a growing problem that has increased ten-fold in the last decade.

This year alone, 39 hospitals in the state have reported drug-dependent newborns.

Not only are the babies enduring the painful road to recovery as they withdraw from the addictive drugs, but some face other problems later in life.

"We have to really worry about what happens to these children as they grow and as they develop, and what are the things they'll have to contend with and society will contend with if we don't get our arms around this issue," said Tennessee Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner.

Health officials say the cost of a newborn dependent on drugs is substantial. While the normal hospital costs for a healthy infant in 2011 were about $4,200, the average cost for a newborn dependent on drugs was nearly $63,000, according to TennCare statistics.

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