Recent data shows that in just over nine months this year, more babies in Tennessee have been born dependent on drugs their mothers took during pregnancy than in all of 2011.
According to the Tennessee Health Department, by the first week of this month, 643 babies were born dependent, compared with 629 for all of 2011.
Commissioner John Dreyzehner says at that rate the department is projecting more than 800 drug-dependent newborns by year end.
He says data shows the majority of the births involved a mother taking medicine prescribed by a health care provider.
Dreyzehner says there needs to be improved conversations between women of childbearing age and their doctors about waiting for a safer time and preventing an unintended pregnancy while the mother is in medically necessary treatment.