Virginia's Piedmont: Opioids and Babies

Opioids and Babies

Since 2000, the rate of babies who go through drug withdrawal after birth—a condition known as neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS)—has skyrocketed by more than 400 percent in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

At the turn of this century, only about one out of every 1,000 infants was born with NAS; now, in communities particularly hard hit by the opioid epidemic, it’s typically seven or more babies per thousand hospital births.

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In Virginia, the NAS rate has risen steadily, climbing to more than eight newborns per thousand births through the first half of last year, according to the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association.


In this region, the NAS rate in Fauquier County has consistently run above the state average, particularly in 2015 when it was four times higher. In recent years, the NAS rate in Culpeper County has also stayed well above the state’s. In counties where there are not many births, such as Rappahannock, the rate can fluctuate widely from year to year.

Number of NAS babies born in the region
Per 1,000 births
Jurisdiction’s rate was equal to or above Virginia’s rate
2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Virginia 2.9 3.6 4.7 5.3 6.1 6.7 7.7
Culpeper 2.9 16.8 17.6 6.2 4.5 20.1 19.8
Fauquier 10.4 4.4 18.3 16.2 24.8 19.5 14
Madison 0 24.8 7.8 0 13.6 21 7.5
Manassas City 1.4 4 2.6 4 5.2 8.1 10.5
Manassas Park 15.2 150 52.6 0 0 0 0
Orange 4.8 8.1 13.2 12.4 7.8 5.5 17.7
Prince William 1.6 1.9 2.5 3.2 2.7 5.1 3.6
Rappahannock 0 71.4 0 0 0 0 0
Source: Virginia Department of Health

By Randy Rieland and Laura Stanton

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