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Legal Protection for Babies Born Addicted to Opioids

As we have previously discussed here and here on our blog, drug companies are finally being held accountable for the plague of opioid addiction and its impact on individuals and their families. 

Recent settlements against drug manufacturers and impending lawsuits point to calls for Big Pharma to acknowledge and pay for its role in the public health crisis that is opioid addiction. 

While these landmark lawsuits are good news for the millions impacted by opioid addiction, others believe more should be done to address the life-long impact opioid exposure in the womb can have on babies who are born addicted.

What is Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome?

Babies who are exposed to opioid addiction before they are born may face unique health problems from the time the are born until later in life.

 According to the Centers for Disease Control, Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) is the name for a group of symptoms presenting in newborns who become addicted in the womb because their mothers use narcotics during pregnancy. 

As a diagnosis, NAS encompasses many different kinds of drugs, but it has become more prevalent because of the opioid crisis. In short, mothers who use any kind of narcotic may deliver a baby who presents with NAS, but the rise in opiate use relates directly to the rise in opiate-related NAS. 

In a study conducted in 2014, a baby with neonatal abstinence syndrome brought on by opioid withdrawal was born every 15 minutes.

Symptoms of NAS in Newborns 

According to Stanford Children’s Health, symptoms of NAS in newborns may include:

  • Tremors
  • Excessive crying/High pitched crying
  • Sleep problems
  • Tight muscle tone
  • Hyperactive reflexes
  • Seizures
  • Yawning, stuffy nose, sneezing
  • Poor feeding and suck
  • Vomiting/Diarrhea/Dehydration
  • Sweating
  • Fever or unstable temperature

The Higher Cost of Healthcare for Babies Born with NAS

Because babies with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome may face a lifetime of challenges due to opioid exposure before they are even born, their healthcare costs over the course of their lives can be higher than costs for those who do not have Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. 

These higher healthcare costs have implications for individuals, families, and communities.

 The pharmaceutical companies who have irresponsibly produced, marketed, and distributed these drugs could play an important role in addressing the consequences of opioid addiction on the tiniest members of society.

Recent Litigation Regarding Regarding Newborn Opioid Addiction

According to a recent Washington Post article, billions of dollars may be needed just to remedy the long-term effects of NAS. Lawyers for children impacted by Neonatal Abstinence syndrome have been fighting for special recognition of the unique health concerns and long-term health monitoring these children may face. 

According to one lawyer mentioned in the Washington Post article who is fighting for money set aside to address neonatal abstinence syndrome in affected children, “Who is going to take care of these children? How are they going to get the educational, medical and psychological care they need, and who’s going to pay for it?” 

These are important questions to consider as we continue to fight against the opioid crisis and what will certainly be its long-term effects. 

How Marks Law Group Can Help

Babies born with NAS are especially vulnerable to a potential lifetime of both health and educational issues, many of which will be expensive. The opioid crisis has claimed tiny victims, and it’s time for those of us who can speak for them to do so. If you or your loved ones know of a newborn born with opioid-related NAS, please reach out to us at Marks Law Group. Our dedicated team will carefully build your case and fight for your child. 



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