When is screening for neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) indicated in newborns?

Updated: Dec 20, 2017
  • Author: Ashraf H Hamdan, MD, MBBCh, MSc, MRCP, FAAP; Chief Editor: Santina A Zanelli, MD  more...
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Healthcare professionals, hospitals, and clinics have an obligation to assess newborns who exhibit signs and symptoms of drug exposure, whose mothers have been identified as probable substance users, or whose mothers have signs and symptoms of drug use.

Rapidly detecting fetal exposure to licit and illicit drugs is of considerable medical value. Such information can assist in making diagnosis of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), as well as help clinicians focus the plan for treatment and follow-up for the neonates. Clear evidence suggests that recognizing the substance exposed infant and implementing early intervention services for the child and mother are keys to minimizing the acute and long-term effects of prenatal substance exposure. Thus, even if the infant exhibits no clinically significant difficulties in the neonatal period, identification of the substance exposed infant can improve the long-term outcome.

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