W.Va. gets federal approval for program to treat opioid-addicted newborns

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WTAP) West Virginia health officials have received federal approval to offer a program to treat newborns exposed to opioids.

West Virginia is the first state to receive approval from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to offer treatment for Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome.

According to a news release from the state Department of Health and Human Resources, symptoms of the disorder appear in newborns when exposure to opioids is abruptly discontinued at birth.

Babies often suffer tremors, vomiting, seizures, excessive crying, and sensitivity to loud noises and bright lights and colors. They typically require around-the-clock care early in their lives.

"West Virginia is facing an opioid epidemic like no other state is experiencing, said Cindy Beane, commissioner of the DHHR's Bureau for Medical Services."This critical designation will allow us to treat the most vulnerable, innocent victims affected by this horrible crisis."

Currently, Lily’s Place in Huntington is offering these services and now can be recognized by West Virginia Medicaid as a Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Treatment Center.

The intent of the center is to reduce or prevent symptoms of withdrawal in newborns who have been prenatally exposed to addictive drugs using both pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions.