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DHHR releases county-by-county data for NAS births in WV

The Free Press WV

The state Department of Health and Human Resources is out with a new report that details the number of babies born addicted to drugs in West Virginia.

County-by-county data released Wednesday by the state DHHR shows Lincoln County had the highest rate of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome births in 2017. The county had at just over 10 percent, which is about 106 cases per 1,000 births.

Marshall County followed with the second highest rate at 102 cases.

The average NAS rate in West Virginia was 5 percent, or 50 cases per 1,000 births.

NAS numbers were particularly high throughout southern West Virginia.

Pleasants and Pendleton counties had NO infants with NAS. All other counties had at least one documented case.

“West Virginia is in the midst of a child welfare crisis and the prevalence of NAS is at the forefront of our issues,” DHHR Cabinet Secretary Bill Crouch said in a news release. “We have seen a 46% increase in the number of children we take into custody and 84% of all child protective service cases involve drug use. Children across our state have suffered more than anyone because of the drug epidemic and these NAS numbers quantify this tragedy.”

Dr. Rahul Gupta, state Health Officer and commissioner of DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health, said in a statement, “By releasing county data, we will be able to understand the impact of NAS at the local level and establish baseline data for program planning and management.”

The DHHR has already secured a first of its kind approval for NAS treatment through Medicaid.

The data was compiled by the DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health, Office of Maternal Child and Family Health and included support from West Virginia University’s Department of Pediatrics Birth Score Office.

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