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Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster

Representing the 2nd District of New Hampshire

Reps. Kuster, Trone, Thompson, and Guthrie Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Support Mothers and their Infants Affected by the Opioid Epidemic

Nov 21, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Representatives Annie Kuster (D-NH), David Trone (D-MD), Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA), and Brett Guthrie (R-KY) introduced the bipartisan Supporting Healthy Outcomes for Mothers and Infants Act of 2019 to support mothers and their infants who are born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). 

This legislation improves the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to better respond to the devastating effect the opioid epidemic has had on women and newborns. Since 2002, the incidence of NAS, which includes a number of symptoms babies experience when they undergo withdrawal from opioids in the days after birth, increased five-fold. 

“As the opioid epidemic continues to devastate communities across New Hampshire and our nation, there has never been a greater need to give families the tools they need to move past substance use disorder and lead healthy lives,” said Rep. Kuster (D-NH). “I am proud to help introduce this bipartisan legislation to help mothers and children affected by opioid addiction work toward a bright and healthy future. I look forward to the Bipartisan Opioid Task Force’s continued work to help communities affected by this crisis succeed.”

“The most tragic victims of the opioid epidemic are the newborn babies who go through withdrawal days after birth,” said Rep. Trone, founder of the Freshmen Working Group on Addiction. “This legislation supports our most vulnerable population by providing evidence-based support and education to mothers and caregivers. The bill will also help tackle the stigma that is associated with addiction. I thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for coming together to support those impacted by the opioid epidemic.”

“The opioid epidemic does not discriminate, it impacts every community and expectant mothers and children are particularly vulnerable,” said Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA). “I’m proud to support the bipartisan Supporting Healthy Mothers and Infants Act, which will help destigmatize addiction, rightfully treating it as an illness, and creates more opportunities for education and prevention.”

“Sadly, every fifteen minutes, a baby is born in the United States suffering from opioid withdrawal, and my home state of Kentucky has been hit especially hard by our nation’s ongoing opioid crisis,” said Rep. Guthrie (R-KY). We need to do all we can to help pregnant women and new moms who are at risk for substance use disorders and babies affected by prenatal substance exposure or neonatal abstinence syndrome. I was proud to join Reps. Trone, Thompson, and Kuster to introduce the Supporting Healthy Mothers and Infants Act of 2019.”

“The opioid epidemic is a public health emergency. Affected WIC families and WIC clinic staff know this first hand,” said Rev. Douglas Greenaway, President and CEO of the National WIC Association (NWA). “Opioid use during pregnancy can inhibit infant growth, with some infants demonstrating symptoms of withdrawal upon birth. WIC clinics screen for signs of withdrawal and counsel participants on appropriate breastfeeding and nutrition strategies to mitigate the effects of opioid use on infant development. They work to support pregnant women and new mothers with appropriate education and referrals. This bipartisan legislation is an important step in strengthening WIC’s work to meet the unique nutritional needs of families affected by opioid use.”

Specifically, the Supporting Healthy Outcomes for Mothers and Infants Act of 2019 :

  • Removes stigmatizing language in the Child Nutrition Act related to substance use disorder
  • Instructs the Secretary of Health and Human Services and Secretary of Agriculture to collaborate in the development of evidence-based nutrition education materials for WIC-eligible pregnant women and caregivers to infants impacted by NAS   
  • Ensures WIC conducts outreach to those who may be eligible for the program and are impacted by substance use disorder
  • Makes any nutrition education and training materials developed available to state agencies through an online clearinghouse

You can read the text of the bill here.

You can read more about the bill here.

 

 

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