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Majority Of State’s NAS Cases Originate In East TN


A WUOT News analysis of Tennessee Department of Health data on Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) shows a large majority of the cases reported in Tennessee so far this year have come from the east side of the state.

As of the end of June, regional health departments throughout the state had reported a total of 463 cases, 296 of which originated in East Tennessee.  Middle Tennessee reported 131 cases and West Tennessee reported 36.

In its most common form, NAS is a condition in which a baby inherits its mother’s dependence on addictive drugs.  After birth, the baby is often forced to go through a painful withdrawal process.

A comparison of major metropolitan counties shows Knox County saw a much higher number of cases (54) than either Davidson County (23) or Shelby County (20). 

The statewide total at the mid-point of the year suggests the number of NAS cases will easily eclipse last year’s total of 855.  Sixty-seven percent of 2013 cases came from East Tennessee.

As of July 1, a new state law makes it a misdemeanor for a woman to use drugs illegally while she’s pregnant.  However, health providers are not required to report NAS cases to law enforcement.