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SWFL State Senator Says Opioids Are Hurting Newborns

Staff Sgt Eric T. Sheler
U.S. Air Force
Blood is collected from a newborn for screening.

Perhaps the most vulnerable victims of the opioid crisis are babies born addicted. Known as neonatal abstinence syndrome, babies born to mothers who’ve taken opioids during pregnancy themselves must endure the painful symptoms of withdrawal during their first days of life.


Risks and symptoms include premature birth, tremors, irritability and almost constant inconsolable crying, hyperactive reflexes, poor feeding, dehydration and even seizures to name a few.


Dr. William Liu, a neonatologist and medical director of Golisano Children's Hospital of Southwest Florida, says the number of babies being admitted to Lee Health facilities with neonatal abstinence syndrome has increased a staggering 1,200 percent since 2005.


Republican state Sen. Kathleen Passidomoof Naples joins Gulf Coast Live to give a closer look at a legislative effort she’ll continue to champion that would create a new pilot program aimed at better addressing the needs of NAS babies and their families.

Rachel Iacovone is a reporter and associate producer of Gulf Coast Live for WGCU News. Rachel came to WGCU as an intern in 2016, during the presidential race. She went on to cover Florida Gulf Coast University students at President Donald Trump's inauguration on Capitol Hill and Southwest Floridians in attendance at the following day's Women's March on Washington.Rachel was first contacted by WGCU when she was managing editor of FGCU's student-run media group, Eagle News. She helped take Eagle News from a weekly newspaper to a daily online publication with TV and radio branches within two years, winning the 2016 Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Award for Best Use of Multimedia in a cross-platform series she led for National Coming Out Day. She also won the Mark of Excellence Award for Feature Writing for her five-month coverage of an FGCU student's transition from male to female.As a WGCU reporter, she produced the first radio story in WGCU's Curious Gulf Coast project, which answered the question: Does SWFL Have More Cases of Pediatric Cancer?Rachel graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University with a bachelor's degree in journalism.