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NICU: Resources and Links for Families

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) is a group of problems that occurs in a newborn who was exposed to opioid drugs for a length of time while in the mother's womb.

Causes:

NAS may occur when a pregnant woman takes drugs such as heroin, codeine, oxycodone (Oxycontin), methadone, or buprenorphine. These and other substances pass through the placenta that connects the baby to its mother in the womb. The baby becomes dependent on the drug along with the mother.

If the mother continues to use the drugs within the week or so before delivery, the baby will be dependent on the drug at birth. Because the baby is no longer getting the drug after birth, withdrawal symptoms may occur as the drug is slowly cleared from the baby's system. Withdrawal symptoms also may occur in babies exposed to alcohol, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and certain antidepressants (SSRIs) while in the womb.

Babies of mothers who use opioids and other addictive drugs (nicotine, amphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, alcohol) may have long-term problems. While there is no clear evidence of a NAS for other drugs, they may contribute to the severity of a baby's NAS symptoms.

This information comes from MedlinePlus. For more information about NAS, including symptoms, testing, treatment, and prevention, visit them MedlinePlus here: Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome.
 
 

A Video for Families - from UMass Memorial Medical Center

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Presentation

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome: Understanding Withdrawal Scoring in Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome 

Presented by Christina Klingensmith Evans, RN, UMass Memorial NICU 

Click the following link to open or save the slide presentation: