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03/01/2019

Department of Health, Penn State Health Discuss Improving Health Outcomes for Children Born Dependent on Opioids

Hershey, PA – Department of Health officials today met with officials from Penn State Children’s Hospital to discuss the importance of meeting the health needs of Pennsylvania’s children, including those related to the opioid crisis.

“We want to ensure that Pennsylvania has healthy moms and healthy kids,” Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Whether we are discussing maternal and child health as it relates to the opioid crisis, or the latest innovations on childhood obesity, we must make sure we are working to provide for the health of our children. It is essential that we focus on a child’s needs from the time they are born throughout their school-age years.”

Governor Wolf’s Ready to Start Task Force has developed a number of priority findings in which the health of children can be improved.

One area that health care providers across the state are focused on, and the state is working to assist them on, is babies born dependent to opioids. Since the beginning of 2018, more than 2,200 infants have been born with neonatal abstinence syndrome, or NAS. Penn State Children’s Hospital is taking several steps to help babies born with NAS, including performing clinical procedures to aid the babies that are treated at the hospital, and conducting research to provide the best outcomes possible for the children.

Discussion with Penn State Health staff also looked at some of the new, innovative ways for treating patients with very serious medical conditions. These new methods include using telehealth to connect patients with serious conditions to specialized physicians and using modern technology to allow for health breakthroughs previously not possible.

“Addressing the whole needs of a child and their family is a priority of the Governor’s Task Force,” Dr. Levine said. “This includes making sure that affordable health care is available to everyone, regardless of their income or background. We must work to reduce any barriers that exist to getting infants, toddlers, children and their caregivers the help and support they need to live a healthy, successful life.”

More information on children’s health can be found on the Department of Health’s website at www.health.pa.gov or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

MEDIA CONTACT: Nate Wardle, 717-787-1783, or ra-dhpressoffice@pa.gov

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