Source: Health Policy Institute of Ohio
In 2014, roughly five Ohio newborns were admitted daily to the hospital with symptoms of withdrawal, up from three in 2010 and less than one a day in 2004 (Source: “Five Ohioans are Born Daily with Drug Withdrawal,” Newark Advocate, May 31, 2016).
Exposure to opioids, such as prescription painkillers and heroin, is driving the increase, having grown 15-fold between 2010 and 2014, according to a recent report from the Ohio Department of Health.
In 2014, the most recent statewide data available, Ohio hospitals reported 66% of infant hospitalizations for exposure to illicit drugs through the placenta or breast milk were for opioids. The state reports there were 4,349 women in 2014 who were diagnosed with drug abuse and dependence at the time of delivery.
The increase has led to the creation of an alternative to neonatal intensive care units to treat the babies at a quarter of the costs – which exceeded $105 million in 2014. Ohio’s first-ever neonatal abstinence syndrome treatment facility, Brigid’s Path, is set to open with 24 private nurseries in Dayton this summer.
Although hospital stays are declining, the overall cost of treatment for the babies — $105 million in 2014 — continues to climb as the number of babies exposed to drugs increases. The bulk of the cost falls onto Medicaid, with it covering all but 172 babies hospitalized with neonatal abstinence syndrome in 2014. According to the report, 2.6% of babies delivered to women on Medicaid were admitted with neonatal abstinence syndrome compared to 1.3% of all live births in 2014.