What is the role of methylxanthine in the pathogenesis of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS)?

Updated: Dec 20, 2017
  • Author: Ashraf H Hamdan, MD, MBBCh, MSc, MRCP, FAAP; Chief Editor: Santina A Zanelli, MD  more...
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Answer

Methylxanthine accumulates in the blood of breastfed infants whose mothers regularly consume caffeine substances. Nicotine is transferred through the placenta and may reach concentrations 15% higher than maternal levels. In utero exposure impairs neonatal habituation, orientation, autonomic regulation, and orientation to sound. Exposure also affects the infant's ability to be comforted and is associated with exaggerated startle reflex and tremor.


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