In 2009, 120 infants exhibited symptoms of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), more than double the number of cases from five years prior. NAS is caused by maternal opioid use, and can result in respiratory problems, feeding difficulty and seizures in newborns.
A new report from the N.H. Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services and the N.H. Charitable Foundation says the average hospital stay for an NAS baby is 16 days, compared to three days for other births.
The report also shows high rates of teen prescription drug abuse in New Hampshire. More than 12% of 18-25 year olds have misused pain relievers in the past year, one of the highest rates in the nation.
Advocates are urging doctors to improve their prescribing practices for opioids, and increase availability of substance abuse treatment programs.