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Press Release

September 11, 2015

Maine DHHS Works to Reduce Rate of Drug-Affected Babies

Conference to be held Sept. 30 in Portland

AUGUSTA – On Wednesday, September 30, The Maine Department of Health and Human Services’ (DHHS) Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHS) and Office of Child and Family Services (OCFS) will host a Substance Use and Pregnancy Conference in Portland to discuss the impact of prenatal substance use, how to prevent it, and ways to support families. Clinicians, counselors, support services representatives, and other treatment providers from around the state are encouraged to attend, and will receive a certificate upon completion.

“Children are Maine’s most precious resource, and it is one of my most important obligations to make sure they have the opportunity to experience happy, healthy childhoods,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “We have to get a handle on the drug epidemic ravaging our young people in Maine. The damage it’s doing to our babies and children is the worst symptom of this scourge.”

According to Maine DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew, the number of reported drug-affected babies born in Maine increased from 178 in 2006 to 995 in 2015. In State Fiscal Year 2015, eight percent of all babies born in Maine were born drug-affected.

“With opiate abuse on the rise in Maine, we must develop ways to protect those who cannot protect themselves from the tragedy of heroin and other drug addictions,” said Commissioner Mayhew. “Everybody in the health care system and in the community needs to be involved to prevent drug and alcohol exposure during pregnancy.”

Dr. Mark Publicker will be the keynote speaker at the conference. Dr. Publicker has practiced addiction medicine for more than 30 years. He is the former president of the Northern New England Society of Addiction Medicine, past president of both the Virginia and Pennsylvania Societies of Addiction Medicine, and is the Editor-in-Chief of the American Society of Addiction Medicine magazine. Dr. Publicker is also a fellow of the American Society of Addiction Medicine and a diplomat of the American Board of Addiction Medicine.

In addition to the keynote address, conference workshop topics and speaker panel subjects include FASD diagnosis and intervention strategies, women and substance use—a criminal justice perspective, collaborative care for women with substance use disorders, and others.

Alcohol use during pregnancy is the leading known cause of preventable birth defects. According to the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, in 2012, 13 percent of pregnant women in Maine had consumed alcohol in the month before the survey and three percent reported binge drinking.

The conference will be held at the Seasons Event and Conference Center in Portland, with registration beginning at 7:30 AM. For more information, visit . Media interested in attending any portion of the conference may contact David Sorensen at DHHS. Providers and others interested in attending may contact Nikki Busmanis at or (207) 287-2816.