Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (ne-o-NAY-tul AB-sti-nence SIN-drome) (NAS) is a condition that starts at birth when an infant’s mother has used drugs (legal or illegal) or alcohol during her pregnancy. When the infant is born, the child’s drug supply stops and he or she goes through a time of withdrawal. Until the drugs have passed out of the baby’s system, he or she feels discomfort like an adult who suddenly stops using drugs (known as “cold turkey” withdrawal).
The signs a baby has NAS depend on what drugs mom used, how much and how often she took them during pregnancy. One or more of the following can be signs of withdrawal:
Some babies have mild signs of withdrawal and need only normal newborn baby care. Others can have severe withdrawal and need medical treatment. This may include being admitted to a special care nursery where they can receive medicine to help ease their discomfort. If your baby is admitted to the special care nursery, he or she will be watched for these signs and scored using a tool developed to assess the severity of your baby’s withdrawal. This score will help the health care team decide what kind of care your baby needs.
There are many things you can do to help your baby in the hospital or at home:
Babies, who have NAS, are very sensitive to stimulation, such as bright light, loud sounds and frequent handling. Keep things calm and quiet around your baby.
If your baby’s doctor has prescribed medicine to ease his withdrawal, give the exact amount. If you forget to give a dose, give it as soon as you remember. Do not give two doses of this medicine at the same time. Give only the amount of medicine that the doctor prescribes.
Your baby’s doctor will prescribe more or less medicine according to your baby’s needs.
If you have any questions, please call your doctor or nurse.
It will be important to watch your baby’s development as they grow and to discuss any concerns you may have with your baby’s doctor. Children who have been treated for NAS in a special care or intensive care nursery may be referred to the Neonatal Developmental Clinic for more specialized care. This clinic will screen your baby to make sure he or she is developing normally. The screening is done by doctors, nurses, and occupational and physical therapists that are trained to take care of babies and toddlers.
Call your child’s doctor if:
Call 911 for emergency help if:
Please ask for the following Helping Hands for more information:
HH-I-320 11/14 Copyright 2009, Nationwide Children’s Hospital