In the News
Drug withdrawal is on the rise in U.S. neonates. An analysis of 674,845 infant hospital stays at 299 neonatal ICUs found that the number of infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome—drug withdrawal resulting from in utero exposure—climbed from seven per 1,000 to 27 per 1,000 from 2004 to 2013, according to a report in the May 28 New England Journal of Medicine. Length of hospital stay in such infants also increased, from 13 to 19 days, and the percentage of infants needing pharmacotherapy rose from 74% to 87%. According to the data from 2012 to 2013, the agents taken most often that resulted in neonatal abstinence syndrome were methadone (31%), opioid pain relievers (24%), buprenorphine (15%), antidepressants (9%), and benzodiazepines (8%).“Effective strategies are needed for antenatal prevention of the syndrome and postnatal treatment of these infants,” write the authors.