Delaware Aims to Reduce Number of Infants Exposed to Drugs, Alco - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Delaware Aims to Reduce Number of Infants Exposed to Drugs, Alcohol Before Birth

Posted: 09/14/2017 18:24:00 -04:00 Updated:

DOVER, Del. -- Delaware health officials on Thursday announced a new effort to try and prevent children from being exposed to alcohol, illegal drugs and prescription medications substances like opioids.

Delaware's Division of Public Health announced it would focus on increasing access to educational materials about the effects of alcohol and drugs on a child during pregnancy and the potential life-long conditions they can cause.

Last year, there were 431 reported cases of substance exposure in infants, according to the state. Officials said that figure was a sharp increase from the year prior.

“Pregnant women often do not realize the extent to which even minimal alcohol and drug use can harm their baby,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, DPH director during a news conference.

Dr. David Paul with Christiana Care, chairman of the  Delaware Healthy Mother and Infant Consortium, said alcohol exposure can lead to conditions that are difficult to detect immediately following birth.

But Paul said opioids can often cause further hospitalization after birth, too, and potentially cause other issues down the line.

"What we're seeing in Delaware is a reflection of the national problem," he said. "What we're seeing in the babies is a reflection of the national problem."

DPH also wants OB/GYNs to screen pregnant women for substance use disorder, a move intended to identify potential cases for exposure so the appropriate treatment or other options can be taken.

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