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December 19th, 2017

Sheila Vargas, Public Relations Director, 603-731-8051


CONCORD, N.H. – Today, New Futures, a statewide health policy and advocacy organization, and the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire released a report detailing the increased number of Granite State babies diagnosed with neonatal abstinence syndrome over the last ten years. The report includes policy recommendations for state officials to take action against the rise of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).

According to the report, the number of babies diagnosed with NAS due to maternal substance use disorders in the Granite State has increased fivefold in 10 years. In 2015, 269 babies were diagnosed with NAS – up from just 52 babies in 2005. With New Hampshire’s harrowing addiction crisis continuing, that number is expected to continue to rise.

“New Hampshire must enact policies to support mothers in recovery and their babies. This report highlights how community-based services, like home visiting, can help to ensure vulnerable families remain healthy, safe and supported,” said Michele Merritt, Senior Vice President at New Futures. “This report also demonstrates the importance of the New Hampshire Health Protection Program (NHHPP). Hundreds of mothers in recovery have received the treatment they need through this critical health insurance program. If we are to build and preserve treatment capacity for new moms in recovery, policymakers must reauthorize the NHHPP during the upcoming legislative session.”

“I urge all of my fellow legislators: please do not ignore the findings in this report,” said NH State Senator Jeb Bradley. “The fact that in the last 10 years in our state, the number of newborns diagnosed with neonatal abstinence syndrome has increased five-fold, from 52 in 2005 to 269 in 2015, and this number is expected to rise, shows that we need to better support these women and families. Increasing access to resources for families, that this state already has such as home visiting, by lifting unnecessary and daunting regulations is a common sense solution and a solution based in clear evidence.”

“Imagine having to choose between your kids and much needed treatment? That’s not good for our kids, nor is it good for the health of our workers, our businesses, or our economy. For far too many families, access to quality, affordable child care is often a missing piece of the treatment puzzle,” said NH State Senator Dan Feltes. “My bill would modify the N.H. Child Care Scholarship program to include individuals participating in mental health or treatment for substance misuse. This will help provide access to child care for many of our friends and families who need it most. No one should have to choose between their kids and treatment. This bill ensures we correct that.”

Programs like Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center’s Moms in Recovery were lauded in the report as a piece of the solution. The program, which uses an integrated model of care and includes providing medication assisted treatment, maternity care, maternal behavioral health care, and referrals to community services for pregnant mothers has led to fewer than 25% of births in the program resulting in NAS.

New Futures is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that advocates, educates and collaborates to improve the health and wellness of all New Hampshire residents through policy change.