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The most recent update on the opioid epidemic shows 57 Lancaster County newborns hospitalized in a year for neonatal abstinence syndrome, or NAS.

The syndrome results from birth stopping a baby's prolonged exposure to substances the mother used or abused during pregnancy, including heroin, prescription painkillers and medication-assisted treatment.

The new report from independent state agency Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council is for the year ended September 2018.

An earlier report showed 137 Lancaster County babies hospitalized with the syndrome over the previous two years, for an average of about 68 a year.

Statewide, the agency said, the rate per 1,000 births dropped from 15.2 to 14.4 — not large enough to be statistically significant, so it "reflects stability in the rates rather than a true downward turning point."

The latest statewide total on newborn hospitalizations attributed to the syndrome was 1,833, and Lancaster County's rate was lower than the state's at 10.1 per 1,000 births.

As LNP has reported, doctors recommend that pregnant women who have substance use disorder involving heroin or prescription painkillers not try to stop cold-turkey, as there’s believed to be an increased risk of complications including miscarriage and relapse.

Instead, they suggest medication-assisted treatment, which involves behavioral therapy and trained providers administering FDA-approved medications like methadone or buprenorphine to provide “a safe and controlled level of medication to overcome the use of an abused opioid,” in the words of the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.