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Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome: Therapeutic Interventions

Sublett, Juli MSN, RN

MCN, The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing: March/April 2013 - Volume 38 - Issue 2 - p 102–107
doi: 10.1097/NMC.0b013e31826e978e
Feature: CE Connection

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) occurs in infants exposed to opiates or illicit drugs during pregnancy. It can be severe and cause long hospital stays after birth and with symptoms up to 6 months after birth. Pharmacologic interventions are commonly used as treatment for NAS; however, their safety and efficacy are not fully recognized. Pharmacologic treatments for NAS include medications such as methadone, buprenorphine, morphine, and phenobarbital. Nonpharmacologic interventions and complementary therapies have been documented in neonates. However, there are gaps in the literature regarding use of these therapies for neonatal withdrawal. This article provides an overview of the possible risks, benefits, and outcomes of pharmacologic and complementary therapies in the neonatal population, and illustrates the gaps in knowledge related to their use for neonatal withdrawal.

This paper explores varied therapy options for infants with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome and the risks, benefits, and outcomes of the therapies.

Juli Sublett is a Staff Nurse at The University Hospital, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Cincinnati, OH. She can be reached via e-mail at

The author declares no conflicts of interest.

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© 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.