Pediatric Academic Societies Annual Meeting

Pediatric Academic Societies Annual Meeting

April 30, 2016
1 min read

Maternal presence during NAS treatment decreased withdrawal severity

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BALTIMORE — Parental presence at the bedside of infants born with neonatal abstinence syndrome may improve their recovery from opioid withdrawal symptoms, according to recent research presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting.

“Our results show that non-pharmacologic interventions play a key role in treating opioid-exposed infants and lessening the severity of [neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS)],” Mary Beth Howard, MD, MSc, of the combined residency program at Boston Children's Hospital and the Boston Medical Center, said in a press release. “Encouraging and supporting mothers with substance abuse disorders to be involved in their infant's care while they are being treated for withdrawal symptoms should be a priority of providers caring for opioid-exposed newborns.”

The researchers retrospectively studied 39 mothers and their full term infants born with NAS, from Boston Medical Center. The Finnegan scale was used to assess NAS treatment progress within a “rooming-in” care model, wherein the mother/infant dyad share a room during NAS treatment.

The researchers recorded parental presence every four hours. Study measures included length of hospital stay, pharmacotherapy characteristics and mean Finnegan score. The researchers also assessed how maternal opioid medication, maternal smoking, psychiatric medications, illicit drug use and breastfeeding were associated with each study measure.

Study results showed that the average overall parental presence was 58%. The researchers found that independent of breastfeeding, parental presence during NAS therapy was significantly linked with lower Finnegan scores (P < .01).

Howard and colleagues also found that parental presences during NAS treatment was also associated with shorter length of hospital stay and fewer days of required therapy; however, those results were not statistically significant.

“Rooming-in may provide opportunities for bonding and normalize the postpartum process for women who may feel vulnerable and stigmatized because of their opioid dependence history,” Howard said. “Creating a more secure, compassionate and comfortable environment for mothers and infants will likely lead to improved outcomes for both mother and infant.”


Howard MB, et al. Abstract #1665.6. Presented at: Pediatric Academic Societies 2016; April 30 - May 3, 2016; Baltimore.

Disclosure: Infectious Diseases in Children was not able to confirm financial disclosures at the time of publication.