Did you know infants treated for neonatal abstinence syndrome score significantly lower in cognitive, language, and motor outcomes at age 2? 


In the 2018 study by Merhar and colleagues, entitled Retrospective Review of Neurodevelopmental Outcomes in Infants Treated for Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, researchers completed a retrospective cohort study looking at neurodevelopmental outcomes of 87 infants treated for NAS. Following administration of the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development, 3rd edition at 2 years of age, researchers determined infants treated for NAS scored significantly lower than the norm on all 3 subscales; cognitive, language, and motor. It was also determined that children who lived with foster or adoptive families had significantly higher cognitive scores and were less likely to have motor scores <85 when compared to children who lived with biological relatives.

As the epidemic of drug exposed infants continues to grow, neonatal professionals must recognize both the short and long term neurodevelopmental outcomes for this unique population. Use of nonpharmacologic interventions and family education of  specific techniques such as handling, massage, skin-to-skin, and swaddled bathing  are imperative to maximizing these outcomes.  Learn more about these interventions, and many more, with the Neonatal Touch & Massage Certification!

Merhar, S., McAllister, J., Wedig-Stevie, K., Klein, A., Meinzen-Derr, J., Poindexter, B. (2018). Retrospective review of neurodevelopmental outcomes in infants treated for neonatal abstinence syndrome. Journal of Perinatology, 38, 587-592.