Public Health Approaches to Addressing Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

Public Health Approaches to Addressing Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

Tuesday, March 20, 2018 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) is a drug withdrawal syndrome that most commonly occurs in infants after in utero exposure to opioids, although other substances have also been associated with the syndrome.” (1)  An average of one infant was born with NAS every 25 minutes in the United States, as of 2012. NAS can cause a number of complications which lead to prolonged hospitalizations.  Healthcare spending for NAS in 2012 has been estimated at $1.5 billion.  Primary prevention strategies, including the improvement of preconception health care, are able to reduce the number of babies born with this condition. 

In this webinar, we will hear from a representative of CDC and learn about one state’s approach to preventing NAS. Shanna Cox, M.S.P.H., a Health Scientist in CDC’s Division of Reproductive Health will highlight recent trends in opioid use and dependence among women of reproductive age and pregnant women. These trends are mirrored in those of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). Her presentation will highlight public health strategies to address NAS in the preconception, pregnancy and birth and neonatal period.

Since its inception in 2006, a major focus of the West Virginia Perinatal Partnership has been on how to address the issue of maternal substance use and the effects of the opioid epidemic on mothers and their infants.  Janine Breyel, Director of the Substance Use in Pregnancy Initiatives for the West Virginia Perinatal Partnership, will describe the work of the Partnership, including the development and implementation of its Drug Free Moms and Babies project.  This innovative project provides comprehensive and integrated maternity and behavioral health care services to pregnant and postpartum women with substance use disorders.  The presentation will also highlight the state’s efforts to improve the identification, monitoring, diagnosis and treatment of babies at risk for NAS.

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  1. Hudak, M.L. and Tan, R.C. Committee on Drugs, Committee on Fetus and Newborn. American Academy of Pediatrics. (2012). Neonatal Drug Withdrawal. Pediatrics. 129 (2): e540–60.
  2. Ko, J.Y., Wolicki, S., Barfield, W.D., et al. (March 10, 2017). CDC Grand Rounds: Public Health Strategies to Prevent Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 66(9):242-245. DOI:
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