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Neonatology

Task Force Fights for Healthy Pregnancies and Babies

Task Force Fights for Healthy Pregnancies and Babies  Nearly every drug that a mother takes during pregnancy passes through the placenta to her unborn baby. If the drug causes addiction and dependence for the mother, it will negatively impact the baby, as well.

In recent years, Lee Memorial Health System has seen a sharp increase in the number of babies born exposed to drugs who demonstrate symptoms of dependency.

Known in the medical community as neonatal abstinence syndrome, or NAS, babies exposed to and dependent on drugs experience a range of withdrawal signs and symptoms shortly after birth, including:

  • Dehydration
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • High-pitched crying
  • Inability to sleep or eat normally
  • Irritability

Babies diagnosed with NAS often are inconsolable, and require specific treatment in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.

The appropriate care is available, but physicians and community leaders want to do more to prevent and decrease the incidence of NAS. A task force was created in 2011 to determine strategies and solutions, and to address the problem.

“We will continue to fight against NAS,” explains William Liu, M.D., neonatologist and medical director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida. “Whether it is increased education in the primary care physician’s office or family planning at drug treatment centers, our task force will continue to develop tactics to educate the community and make mothers more accountable for their babies.”

Since the inception of the task force, and in the last year, the incidence of NAS has leveled off. “It is exciting to see that change may be occurring,” says Michelle Waddell, RNC-NIC, Lee Memorial Health System director of neonatal services. “The task force will continue to meet regularly to come up with ways to address this problem. We will provide the education and tools necessary to fight the incidence of NAS.”

Becoming a mother is an exciting journey. Talk to your doctor about any drugs or medications you take before you become pregnant or as soon as possible after you find out you are pregnant so you can be sure that you and your baby will have the healthiest future possible.

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“The task force will continue to meet regularly to come up with ways to address this problem. We will provide the education and tools necessary to fight the incidence of NAS.,” Dr. Liu says.


Born Addicted NASs

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William Liu, M.D.
Pediatrix Medical Group of Florida
9981 S. HealthPark Drive, Suite 281
Fort Myers, FL 33908
239-343-6906

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