The National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimates that 5 million Americans are using pain relievers for non-medical purposes. Of these, approximately 2 million people meet abuse or dependence criteria for prescription opiates. Between 2000 and 2009 it was estimated the incidence of opiate use in pregnancy had increased 5-fold and the incidence of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) had increased by 3 fold.
Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) refers to a constellation of signs in the newborn due to substance or medication withdrawal. It is characterized by hyperactivity and dysregulation of the central and autonomic nervous system. Most babies with NAS show signs of withdrawal 24-96 hours after birth.
The nurses and providers on the Birthing Suite at SMH have been working in collaboration to create a standardized policy and assessment for newborns who present with NAS. This policy follows the Northern New England Perinatal Quality Improvement Network guidelines as well as the DHMC guidelines for the care of newborns with NAS.
The staff here at SMH is proactive in providing education, support, and encouragement for these new mothers and babies. This process starts with our Obstetricians providing education and referrals during the prenatal process. Early detection allows the obstetrical team to intervene by referring patients to a medication assisted treatment program, supporting recovery and alerting the pediatric team of a newborn at risk for NAS. Then with the delivery of the newborn, we provide continued education, support, and encouragement from our pediatricians and nursing staff.