Nearly All Babies Born With Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Were Exposed To Opioids

Dr. Jennifer Lind PharmD, MPH Division of Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Interview with:
Dr. Jennifer Lind PharmD, MPH
Division of Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities,

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?
Dr. Lind: CDC and Florida investigators published a new report describing the characteristics of infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) and their mothers.  NAS is a group of signs exhibited by newborns exposed to addictive drugs taken by a mother during pregnancy. Infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome have prolonged hospital stays, experience serious medical complications, and are very costly to treat.

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Dr. Lind: In this investigation, 242 infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome were identified in three Florida hospitals during a 2-year period (2010–2011). Nearly all of the infants with NAS were exposed to opioid painkillers during pregnancy (99.6%) and experienced serious medical complications, with more than 97% being admitted to an intensive care unit, where the average length of stay was 26 days. Despite a high prevalence of positive urine toxicology tests during the birth hospitalization, only a small proportion of mothers had documentation of referrals for drug counseling or rehabilitation.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Lind: The findings of this report underscore the important public health problem of neonatal abstinence syndrome and add to current knowledge on the characteristics of these mothers and infants. Improvements are needed in drug addiction counseling/rehabilitation referral and documentation policies. Women who are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant should discuss all medications and any addictive drugs that they are currently taking with a healthcare provider.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study

Dr. Lind: Other analyses from this investigation will evaluate the use of Florida’s linked administrative data (linked hospital inpatient discharge, birth certificate, and infant death certificate data) for neonatal abstinence syndrome surveillance.


Infant and Maternal Characteristics in Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome — Selected Hospitals in Florida, 2010–2011

Jennifer N. Lind, PharmD1,2,3, Emily E. Petersen, MD1,3,4, Philip A. Lederer, MD1,3,5, Ghasi S. Phillips-Bell, ScD4,6, Cria G. Perrine, PhD2,3, Ruowei Li, MD2, Mark Hudak, MD7, Jane A. Correia6, Andreea A. Creanga, MD4, William M. Sappenfield, MD8, John Curran, MD9, Carina Blackmore, PhD6, Sharon M. Watkins, PhD6, Suzanne Anjohrin, MPH6

MMWR Weekly

March 6, 2015 / 64(08);213-216 Interview with:  Dr. Jennifer Lind PharmD, MPH (2015). Nearly All Babies Born With Neonatal Abstinence Syndromes Were Exposed To Opioids 

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Last Updated on March 11, 2015 by Marie Benz MD FAAD