Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome
What Does Neonatal Mean?
Neonatal is defined as relating to or affecting a newborn infant during the first month after birth. Neonatal is a term used in many different areas of medicine. Addiction treatment is one field of medicine to use the term neonatal because of neonatal abstinence syndrome.
What is Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome?
Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) is a group of medical problems faced by newborns who were exposed to addictive drugs during their mother’s pregnancy. Drugs the mother takes pass through the placenta to the baby. The baby becomes physically dependent on the drug at the same time as the mother.
If the mother continues to take drugs immediately before birth, the newborn will emerge entirely dependent on that drug. The newborn will experience withdrawal symptoms while its body is slowly getting the drug out of their system.
Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome
NOWS is the blanket term to describe a newborn with NAS caused solely by opioids. This is the most common type of NAS.
NAS With Drugs Other Than Opioids
A newborn may experience NAS and withdrawal symptoms when exposed in the womb to:
- Although they won’t experience NAS or withdrawal symptoms, there may be long-term health effects on babies that were exposed to:
What Are the Signs of NAS?
Signs of NAS may be different for every newborn, most occur within 3 days of birth, but some newborns may not show signs for up to 6 months. If your newborn is showing signs of NAS, contact a doctor as soon as possible. Signs may include:
- Body shakes
- Excessive crying
- Poor feeding and low weight
- Breathing problems
- Blotchy skin
- Sleep problems
- Throwing up
- Stuffy nose
Initial Medical Complications for the Newborn
Babies with NAS are at increased risk of:
- Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). SIDS may cause the unexplained death of the baby while sleeping.
- Low birthweight. If your baby weighs less than 5 lbs.
- Jaundice. Your baby’s eyes and skin look yellow, meaning the liver hasn’t developed properly.