A report in the March/April issue of the Journal of Addiction Medicine finds that the costs of treatment for babies with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS)—symptoms and complications related to withdrawal from the opioid pain medication to which they were exposed in utero—have increased dramatically as more infants are born to mothers with dependence on prescription pain medications. The authors cite the findings in support of their recommendations for more intensive screening of pregnant women for substance abuse.
The report contends that nonmedical use of prescription opioid pain medications during pregnancy has increased 5-fold since the late 1990s. Some infants born to women with opioid use disorder will develop NAS. Although universal screening for drug use during pregnancy has been recommended by major specialty organizations, it is not yet standard practice, according to the authors. They also call for studies to improve the management of NAS and for follow up of evidence that buprenorphine may lead to better treatment outcomes, in comparison to methadone, in the treatment of pregnant women with opioid use disorder.
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Read more about the research and recommendations, with link to the journal article, here.