Pennsylvania House Advances Bill to Help Children of Opioid Dependent Parents | Life

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania – Pennsylvania remains one of the states hardest hit by the opioid crisis. The focus is on people with substance abuse disorders, but their children are also deeply affected.

Representative Clint Owlett recently sponsored a law to help these children, and the Pennsylvania House of Representatives unanimously approved it.

“The opioid epidemic has caused so much heartache for so many families across the Commonwealth, but by far one of the most devastating impacts has been on our children,” said Owlett.

“Newborns suffer from withdrawal from the drugs they were exposed to in the womb. Deaths and near-deaths of infants and young children have been linked to parental drug addiction. Cases of child abuse and neglect related to parental drug addiction are on the rise, as are the number of children removed from their homes and placed in custody due to their parents’ drug addiction. “

“Our children deserve better. We need to do more to support them and their families, ”added Owlett.

Bill 253 establish a working group to focus on the impact of the opioid abuse epidemic on children. The objectives of the working group would include improving the safety, well-being and permanence of substance-exposed infants and other young children affected by their parents’ substance abuse disorders.

The working group would also be responsible for identifying strategies and making suggestions to prioritize the prevention of infants exposed to substances; improve outcomes for pregnant and parenting people struggling to recover from addiction; and promote the health, safety and permanence of infants and young children exposed to substances who are at risk of being abused or neglected, or placed in foster care due to parental alcohol and drug abuse .

According to statistics from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, 2,140 infants were born in 2018 with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). Of all NAS cases, 90 percent were tested for laboratory evidence of prenatal drug exposure and 84 percent of those whose lab tests were performed had a positive laboratory result.

Of these, 85 percent of infants tested positive for some form of opioid; 68% for drugs associated with drug treatment; and 22% for opiates, oxycodone or fentanyl.

“These babies are the truly innocent victims of the opioid abuse crisis,” Owlett said. “We have the data to show how pervasive this problem is, but it’s no good if we don’t use it to help these children. “

The bill will be sent back to the Senate for further consideration.

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