Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) is a set of problems that may affect a child if the mother used certain drugs during pregnancy. These drugs may include prescription medicines. The drugs pass through the placenta and enter the baby's bloodstream. They affect the baby in much the same way as they affect the mother. The baby's body gets used to the drug. After birth, when the drug starts to leave the body, the baby goes through withdrawal. This may happen within hours after birth or later, depending on the drug.
This condition is also called neonatal withdrawal syndrome.
NAS is caused by legal or illegal drugs that are addictive. Some examples are heroin, methadone, morphine, and hydrocodone. It's important to tell your baby's doctor what drugs you took, how much you took, and when you took them. This can help the doctor give your baby the best care possible.
Babies with NAS may be irritable and jittery. They may cry a lot and have problems feeding and sleeping. This can be stressful for you and your baby. But most babies recover after the body has rid itself of the drug. The length of time it takes for the body to get rid of the drug depends on the drug and how much is in the body.
Treatment will help keep your baby from getting worse while the drug is still in the body.
Your baby may need special care, such as being in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). This may be scary for you. But the hospital staff understands this. They will explain what happens and will answer your questions.
Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.
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Current as of: May 12, 2017
John Pope, MD, MPH - Pediatrics
& Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MD, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Jennifer Merchant, MD - Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine
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