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UC presents Annual Zuspan Lecture Series


Williamsburg, Ky. - University of the Cumberlands’ (UC) Health, Exercise, and Sport Science (HESS) and Biology departments recently held their annual Zuspan Lecture series. This year’s guest speaker was Dr. Erica Wilson, MPH. The lecture informed students about Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), a growing epidemic that is spreading across Tennessee and Kentucky.

“NAS is a term for a group of problems a baby experiences because the mother is addicted to opiates,” Dr. Wilson said.

Pregnant women who are addicted to prescription painkillers cause NAS. Babies are born dependent on drugs because of the mother’s addiction. Dr. Wilson said the nervous system of the baby becomes over stimulated; causing symptoms of withdrawal after a baby is born. Babies experience extreme tremors, vomiting, diarrhea, and extreme irritability because of withdrawal.

Dr. Wilson came to educate UC about the harm NAS is causing mothers and children, as well as the affects it has on nurses in neonatal units in hospitals, in particular, eastern Tennessee.

Another point Dr. Wilson made was her committee’s efforts to prevent NAS by starting in jails to educate female prisoners. Dr. Wilson went to local jails to offer women a Long Acting Reversible Contraceptive, which would prevent addicted, child-bearing women from getting pregnant and spreading NAS.

Though NAS is not like other diseases, it still affects thousands of people across the region and can be prevented.

“In public health, we want to stop it because it even starts,” Dr. Wilson said.

Dr. Wilson works for the Tennessee Department of Health in the eastern region. She is also the chairperson for a committee designed to educate and prevent NAS Primary Prevention Task Force. She has been working in the region for over 14 years and is also a UC alumnus.

UC’s annual Zuspan Lecture is sponsored by Perinatal Resources, Inc. (Hilliard, Ohio) in honor of its former president, the late Dr. Fredrick Zuspan. Each year, the lecture focuses on a health issue of particular interest to the southeast Kentucky region.

Located in Williamsburg, Ky., University of the Cumberlands is an institution of regional distinction, which currently offers four undergraduate degrees more than 40 major fields of study; ten pre-professional programs; ten graduate degrees distributed over eight areas, including two doctorates and seven master’s degrees; certifications in education; and online programs. For more information, visit

Article provided by Amanda Kelly, UC Multimedia and Athletic Services Department Student Assistant