(04/12/2018)
The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) has released county-level Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) data for 2017 showing the overall incidence rate of NAS was 50.6 cases per 1,000 live births (5.06%) for West Virginia residents.

NAS is a withdrawal syndrome that occurs after prenatal exposure to drugs is discontinued suddenly at birth. NAS involves multiple systems in the infant’s body. Infants with NAS often require longer hospital stays to monitor and treat withdrawal symptoms such as tremors, feeding difficulties, excessive crying, and sensitivity to stimuli.

All West Virginia counties except Pleasant and Pendleton counties had cases.

Pharmacological treatment such as small doses of morphine or methadone may be needed to manage withdrawal symptoms; the infant is then slowly weaned off under the supervision of a medical team.

The highest incidence rate of NAS was 106.6 cases per 1,000 live births (10.66%) in Lincoln County, followed by Marshall County, where the incidence rate was 102.1 cases per 1,000 live births (10.21%).

“West Virginia is in the midst of a child welfare crisis and the prevalence of NAS is at the forefront of our issues,” said Bill J. Crouch, DHHR Cabinet Secretary. “We have seen a 46% increase in the number of children we take into custody and 84% of all child protective service cases involve drug use. Children across our state have suffered more than anyone because of the drug epidemic and these NAS numbers quantify this tragedy.”


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