Did you know LOS can be decreased when we focus on non-pharmacological interventions for opioid exposed infants?

In a 2019 literature review, Piccotti and associates examined the effects of the opioid crisis on pregnant women, mothers, and their infants.  According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey, more than 14 million people in the United States misused or abused drugs in 2016.  These are the highest numbers ever recorded in the United States.  A large portion of this group are women in their childbearing years.  As a result, more than 10,000 infants are affected by Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome (NOWS) or Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) annually with an estimated cost of hospitalization for NOWS to be $1.5 billion.  To date, there have not been any large, high-quality, studies done on the nonpharmacologic treatment of NOWS, and there are currently no FDA approved pharmacologic treatments for NOWS.  As a result, pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic treatment of infants with NOWS varies widely from hospital to hospital.  But we do know, that the AAP suggests that nonpharmacologic care is the preferred treatment option, and to add pharmacologic treatment only if symptoms persist after nonpharmacologic treatment does not relieve symptoms.  NOWS is traumatic and stressful to infants and a neuroprotective, developmental, trauma-informed framework can support the infant and family through this time of stress.  Piccotti and associates found through the literature review that infants with NOWS can best be supported with a healing environment, pain and stress management, protected sleep, family-centered care, feeding, positioning, and skin care.  This framework decreases length of stay, improves family involvement, and supports normal infant growth and development.


CTC offers Neonatal On-line Education (NOLE), Customized Education for your center, and the Neonatal Touch and Massage Certification (NTMC) course, all of which can provide you with the tools and education to support an infant and his/her family through the stressful time of NOWS.  Learn more about how we can help you provide neuroprotective, developmental, family-centered care to infants with NOWS here.

Piccotti, L., et al. (2019). Neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome: a developmental care approach. Neonatal Network. 38 (3), 160-169.