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Dr. Hendree Jones said the incidence of neonatal withdrawal from opioids has grown fivefold since 2000.

Hendree Jones

Dr. Hendree Jones, executive director of UNC’s Horizons Program, has been tapped by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to chair an expert panel charged with developing practical recommendations on providing the best care to opioid-dependent pregnant women and their children.

“A Guide to the Management of Opioid-Dependent Pregnant and Parenting Women and Their Children” will serve as a guide for practitioners treating such patients in the hope of reducing the incidence of neonatal abstinence syndrome.

SAMHSA is the national agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. Congress established SAMHSA 1992 to make substance use and mental disorder information, services and research more accessible.

One-in-three pregnant women will fill a prescription for pain medication in the U.S., and guidelines will meet an important need for providers said Dr. Jones, a professor in UNC’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

“The incidence of neonatal withdrawal from opioids has grown fivefold since 2000,” she said. “This document will provide professionals with a practical translation of the most up-to-date evidence we have on how to best care for opioid-dependent women and their children.”

Dr. Jones is an internationally recognized expert in the development and examination of both behavioral and pharmacologic treatments for pregnant women and their children in risky life situations. With Dr. Jones’ lead, the expert panel will meet three times this summer and fall to help develop the guidelines.

The Horizons Substance Abuse Program is a comprehensive substance abuse treatment and relapse prevention program with residential and outpatient programs for pregnant and postpartum women and their children. The program has been recognized all over the world for its innovative work in patient care, as well as training opportunities for learners in the fields of medicine, social work, public health, psychology and women’s issues.