I've written before about the condition known as NAS, or Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, which is diagnosed when a child is born drug dependent because of their mother's substance abuse during the pregnancy. A recent report by the Lexington Herald-Leader draws further attention to this growing problem - and it is a growing problem.
As you can see from just a cursory look at the report at right, the occurrence of NAS is climbing quickly, and until now we only had data through 2011. For reasons I have yet to uncover, a statute passed in 2013 closed the door to this data, preventing the anonymized statistics of these cases from being disclosed to the public, thereby concealing the growing problem and the need to help these children and their families.
Well, no more. The moment I learned of that 2013 statute I went to work on a bill to fix it. That bill draft was filed this year (2014) and became Senate Bill 47, allowing the anonymous data related to NAS diagnoses to be shared with the public, including policy makers in the Legislative and Executive branches, so that going forward we can make the best, well-informed decisions.
Yesterday, I had the privilege of attending a ceremonial bill signing for SB 47 with the Governor. (Click the image to enlarge).
While SB47 was an important first step, I will continue to work on legislation aimed at protecting and helping the most vulnerable Kentuckians – especially the unborn and the newborn who have no control over their own lives yet stand to suffer the most from substance abuse.
Be watching in 2015 as I continue this fight!