A task force of state health officials is trying to reverse an alarming rise in the number of babies born addicted to drugs in Tennessee. Babies born addicted suffer from neonatal abstinence syndrome, often spending many days in the hospital as they go through the painful withdrawal process, experiencing seizures, tremors, fever and vomiting. The Health Department reported that the number of babies with neonatal abstinence syndrome increased by tenfold between 2000 and 2010. To combat the growing problem, the Health Department will begin requiring hospitals to report babies born with the syndrome beginning on January 1. State health officials also have petitioned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to place a black box warning on prescription painkillers that alerts physicians to the harm they can cause a fetus.
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