CONCORD, N.H. (AP) _ Republican New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte is co-sponsoring a bill that would address a growing number of infants being exposed to opioids while in the womb.

The bill introduced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Democratic Sen. Robert Casey of Pennsylvania would direct the Health Department to develop a strategy to address the alarming number of infants diagnosed with newborn withdrawal.

The Protecting Our Infants Act also would work on developing recommendations for preventing and treating prenatal opioid abuse and for treating infants born dependent on opioids.

In New Hampshire, Catholic Medical Center reports that the number of babies born with newborn withdrawal is up 7 percent from 3 percent the previous year.

“New Hampshire is facing a growing opioid and prescription drug abuse epidemic, and infant withdrawal is a heart-breaking consequence of this sad reality,” Ayotte said. “We must work diligently to address all repercussions that result from drug abuse. I am co-sponsoring this important legislation because I believe that we must do everything we can do address the alarming opioid and prescription drug abuse problem in New Hampshire and across the country.”