Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) refers to the group of symptoms suffered by an infant who has been exposed to opioids inside the womb and essentially suffers withdrawal. Contrary to belief, a birth mother only need be prescribed opioids for NAS to occur. Addiction is not necessary in order for the baby to experience the effects.
Because the fetus can be affected by even minimal opioid use, it is possible that as many as half a million babies have been affected by NAS. However, a federal judge’s decision not to certify a class action suit initiated by parents and guardians of babies stricken with NAS may have inadvertently given attorneys an idea for how to better handle these cases.
Why the judge believes individual lawsuits may be best for “opioid babies”
While the judge admittedly didn’t understand the inner workings of NAS, the attorneys representing the families do. The symptoms and long-term effects are dependent upon:
- The specific drug taken
- Length of time it was introduced into the unborn baby’s system
- The gestational period during which the drugs were taken
Because a variance of these factors means each child may experience a different level of birth injury, potentially resulting in different levels of damages, attorneys began looking at the failure to certify the class action as a sign to change strategies.
A baby who is exposed to a less dangerous opioid at 36 weeks may have injuries that can be remedied in time with the right treatment, while a fetus exposed to a highly addictive opioid beginning at 16 weeks for a longer period may suffer permanent injury he/she will have to manage for a lifetime. As such, it makes much more sense to treat each child’s case like the individuals they are.
Pursuing a claim under the Tennessee Drug Dealer Liability Act
One direction some attorneys have chosen to go is pursuing a claim under the Tennessee’s Drug Dealer Liability Act. Under this law, they have been able to allege that drug companies “knowingly participated in the illegal drug market by flooding the state with opioids.” In essence, the state allows drug manufacturers and distributors to be held responsible when someone has been injured by illegal drug activity.
So far, it has gained some traction and may offer hope to parents and their opioid-injured children. The compensation they need to provide the necessary medical care could be just around the corner.
What is NAS?
Some of the side effects babies exhibit from NAS can include:
- Developmental delay
- Speech or language impairment
- Hearing and vision problems
- Behavioral issues
- Brain injury from oxygen loss brought on by seizure
- Lack of impulse control
Signs that your baby may have NAS could be:
- Tremors, seizures or twitching
- Excessive crying
- Reluctance to eat
- Breathing difficulty
- Fever or sweating
- Sleep issues
NAS can also pose a risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
The compassionate Memphis birth injury lawyers at Bailey & Greer, PLLC, don’t want to see any child experience difficulties growing up because of a preventable health issue they were saddled with before entering the world. These children deserve the resources needed to return them to as healthy a life as possible. To schedule your free, no-obligation consultation in our Memphis or Jackson office call 901-475-7434, or we invite you to reach out to us through the firm’s contact page to tell us your story.
As founder of Bailey & Greer, R. Sadler Bailey has battled his fair share of insurance giants and wrongdoers and has achieved numerous multimillion-dollar results for the victims of catastrophic injuries and their families. What’s more, he has been involved in more than 40 appellate court decisions affecting Tennessee personal injury law, including many landmark appearances before the Tennessee Supreme Court.
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