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Congressman Evan Jenkins

Representing the 3rd District of West Virginia


October 4, 2017
Press Release
GAO study to advance our understanding of how to treat drug-exposed newborns and infants

WASHINGTON – U.S. Representative Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.) and Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) announced the release today of the Government Accountability Office’s study on neonatal abstinence syndrome.

The study, “Federal Action Needed to Address Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome,” is the first federal study of its kind to examine best practices and approaches to treating newborns exposed to opioids during pregnancy. Please click here to read the study.

The report recommends several practices to address NAS and improve treatment for these newborns, including educating expectant mothers on prenatal care. It also suggests educating healthcare providers on screening and treating NAS, as well as addressing the stigma faced by pregnant women who use opioids that keeps them from getting treatment.

Rep. Jenkins introduced legislation, the NAS Healthy Babies Act, to require this study, which the House passed last year. Thanks to the work of Rep. Jenkins and Sen. Capito, the legislation was included in the final version of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, which was signed into law by the president.

“Suffering through withdrawal from exposure to drugs such as heroin and other opioids is a horrific way to start one’s life, but tragically that’s the reality for many newborns in West Virginia and across the country. I was proud to sponsor and champion the law that required this study so we could expand our knowledge of NAS and how to care for these precious newborns. Every child deserves the best chance for a healthy start in life,” Rep. Jenkins said. “This report showed that there are other options for care outside of a hospital that may be more suitable for some babies, like the care being given at Lily’s Place in Huntington. It also found that we can and must do more to work with caregivers in our communities. Based on this report’s findings, I am ready to draft new legislation to find and promote solutions to help these babies and stop the opioid epidemic.”

“We hear heartbreaking stories every day about the tragic deaths and painful struggles of individuals dealing with addiction, but some of the most heartbreaking are those of infants who are exposed to opioids before they’re even born. It’s important that we do more to draw attention to this issue and take action to address it. That’s why I pushed to make sure CARA included a provision requiring this study and have continued working to advance legislation that will help these infants,” Sen. Capito said. “West Virginia is so fortunate to be home to Lily’s Place, a wonderful facility that provides the kind of specialized care infants going through withdrawal need. However, many families across the country don’t have access to that kind of care or don’t even know it’s a possibility. By raising awareness of treatment options like those available at Lily’s Place and exploring strategies to help infants in need, we can really begin to address this tragic aspect of the opioid crisis. This study is another step in a much larger fight, but it’s a welcome and useful tool that I know will inform our efforts moving forward.”

Rep. Jenkins and Sen. Capito have worked together on other legislation to address the opioid crisis and help NAS newborns. In the House, Rep. Jenkins introduced the bipartisan Caring Recovery for Infants and Babies (CRIB) Act, which Sen. Capito helped introduce in the Senate.

The CRIB Act would build on the best practices of Lily’s Place in Huntington for treating NAS babies. It would also make it easier for similar centers to open across the country by cutting regulatory red tape.