NAS: The Increase in Newborn Drug Withdrawal

In the midst of the ongoing opioid epidemic, there is a group of defenseless victims that has gone largely unmentioned – newborn babies.

Opioid Withdrawal among Newborns

Somewhere in America, an infant exhibiting signs of drug withdrawal – also known as Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome – is born every 25 minutes. Per the National Institute on Drug Abuse:

  • 2012: There were almost 28,000 cases of NAS.
  • Compared to 2000, this represents a 5-fold increase.
  • The number of women addicted to opioids at the time of their labor and delivered QUADRUPLED between 1999 and 2014.
  • A newborn infant with NAS remains in the hospital for an average of 17 days, compared to 2 days for an infant born without NAS.
  • If treatment is required, the average stay lengthens to 23 days.
  • Non-NAS birth, average cost: $3500
  • NAS birth, average: $66,700

Opioid Addiction Among Pregnant Women

These earlier findings are supported by brand-new information released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  In 1999, the rate of opioid addiction among women at the time of their labor and delivery was 1.5 per 1000 hospital deliveries, but by 2014, the rate had spiked to 6.5.

Opioid abuse during pregnancy can result in serious complications, including:

  • Maternal death
  • Premature delivery
  • Low birth weight
  • Stillbirth
  • NAS

Other Drugs That Increase the Risk of NAS

The risk is greatest among women abusing prescription painkillers or heroin in combination with another psychotropic medication, such as:

  • Antidepressants (Paxil, Prozac, Cymbalta, Lexapro, Celexa, etc.)
  • Benzodiazepine tranquilizers (Seresta, Ativan, Klonopin, Xanax, Valium, etc.)
  • Gabapentin (Neurontin, Horizant, Gralise, etc.)

NAS Symptoms

NAS complications can be concerning, including:

  • Lack on parent-child bonding
  • Reduced birth weight
  • Jaundice
  • Splotchy skin
  • Feeding issues
  • Breathing problems
  • Poor sleeping
  • Excessive yawning
  • Projective vomiting
  • Watery stool
  • Weight loss
  • High-pitched, incessant crying
  • Stuffy nose
  • Sneezing
  • Fever
  • Seizures

Polydrug abuse that maximizes the danger of NAS. The likelihood of neonatal withdrawal when a pregnant woman has taken an opioid painkiller such as OxyContin or Vicodin is just 1%. But when she has taken both opioids AND gabapentin, for example, that risk spikes sharply, to more than 11%.

If you are an expectant mother, you and your baby both deserve the safest delivery possible, without consequences that are 100% preventable.  The safest thing you can do is to get specialized professional help for your drug problem.

In Southern California, your best resource is Chapman House Treatment Centers.  Since 1978, Chapman House has provided a premier drug and alcohol rehab services in Orange County.  To have your questions answered and to start your own personal sober journey, contact Chapman House TODAY.


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