U.S. Senator Charles Schumer speaking the media Monday, June 11 at Sisters of Charity Hospital in Buffalo. He outlined his three-point plan to reduce the number of babies born addicted to prescription painkillers. Also pictured on right side is Dr. Kamal Singhal, a neonatologist at Sisters Hospital.
Schumer outlines plan to prevent babies born addicted to painkillers
Buffalo (WBEN) -- U-S Senator Charles Schumer is pushing a plan meant to reduce the number of babies that are born addicted to painkillers.
The Democrat spoke Monday at Sisters of Charity Hospital in Buffalo.
Joined by doctors and nurses, Schumer called on the U.S. Food & Drug Administration to change drug labels to clearly warn pregnant women of the dangers of prescription painkillers. The condition is known as Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS).
His plan also includes two other elements, he says.
"I'm urging the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to give doctors a full education, so they're better able to identify the symptoms of prescription-drug abuse and treat babies who are born with an addiction," Schumer says.
The Democrat would also like to see more research from the National Institute of Health and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention to help future mothers avoid addiction.
The lawmaker noted that this plan won't require new legislation.
His office says, in previous years, only a handful of babies were born addicted to painkillers. But now, that numbers has "skyrocketed" in the Buffalo area. Some Western New York hospital, the office noted, now have more babies born addicted to painkillers in a month than previously occurred in an entire year.
Citing the latest data, Schumer says the number of babies born addicted to prescription opiates has nearly tripled in the past decade. The research -- the first survey of its kind and published in the Journal of American Medical Association in May, revealed that about 3.4 of every 1,000 infants born in 2009 suffered from NAS -- amounting to about one infant born with the syndrome every hour.