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MassGeneral Hospital for Children
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Dr. Leslie Kerzner is the Associate Medical Director of the Special Care Nursery at MGH. She is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. She is the Director of the Newborn Developmental Follow-up Clinic and the Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) program at MGH. Dr. Kerzner completed a 3 year post-graduate fellowship in Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine at Women & Infants' Hospital at Brown University (1998-2001). She completed a 2 year residency in Pediatrics and a 1 year internship in Pediatrics/Adult & Child Psychiatry also at Brown University (1995-1998). She attended medical school at the University of Vermont (1995) and received a B.A. in psychology from Boston University (1988). She is board certified in both General Pediatrics and Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine. Dr. Kerzner is certified in the Neonatal Behavioral Observation system and has been a trainer at the Brazelton Institute at Children's Hospital, Boston.
Currently, Dr. Kerzner attends in both the Newborn ICU and Special Care Nurseries at MGH and directs the Newborn Developmental Follow-up Clinic at Yawkey to follow high risk infant development. Dr. Kerzner directs a multi-disciplinary NAS Working Group to improve the care of families and infants affected by opiate use in pregnancy and NAS. She provides consultation during pregnancy to women who take opiates and has developed protocols for caring for the infants affected by NAS. She runs the Quality Improvement projects related to NAS in the division, and she represents MGH at the state NeoQic NAS Collaborative and the Vermont Oxford Network national INICQ NAS Collaborative. She sits on the MGH Opioid Task Force and the OB Substance Use Disorder Committee. In 2016, she was appointed to the Advisory Council to Support the Interagency Task Force on Newborns with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome with the MA Executive Office of Health and Human Services.
The clinicians who care for infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome have established extensive treatment protocols to control withdrawal symptoms, which prevents many children from suffering short and long-term effects.
Teens, adults, and now the rise of a new generation affected by the opioid crisis. According to federal statistics, every 25 seconds a baby is born-- helpless and hooked on opioids. Their battle to get clean is heart-wrenching.
Massachusetts hospitals are seeing evidence that the opioid epidemic is affecting the next generation, with an increasing number of babies being born exposed to drugs. The most recent state hospital data suggest that the rate of drug-dependent newborns has skyrocketed to about 16 in every 1,000 births — about three times the national average.
After 40 years and a trillion dollars, the nation has little to show for its war on drugs. Prisons are beyond crowded and there's a new outbreak in the heroin epidemic.
Natalia Nowakowski was born prematurely at 29 weeks with a host of medical issues. With help from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, the Special Care Nursery and the Newborn Developmental Follow-Up Clinic at MassGeneral Hospital for Children, Natalia, now 3 years old, is a thriving as a happy, healthy preschooler with a love for music and dance.
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