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Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

Neonatal Abstinence SyndromeNeonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) is a treatable condition that newborns may experience as a result of prenatal exposure to certain substances, most often opioids. Neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS) is a related term that refers to the symptoms that infants may experience as a result of exposure to opioids specifically. Symptoms of NAS and NOWS may include severe irritability, difficulty feeding, respiratory problems, and seizures. Infants with NAS and NOWS are treated through non-pharmacological methods (such as rooming-in with mothers after birth, breastfeeding, swaddling, skin-to-skin time, and minimizing stimuli in the environment), as well as pharmacologic methods (medication) when warranted. Prior to birth, engaging pregnant women with opioid and other substance use disorders in substance use treatment and other services as a component of prenatal care can also mitigate or prevent negative birth outcomes associated with NAS and NOWS.

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The National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare offers free technical assistance to a various of systems on making policy and practice changes to improve outcomes for families affected by substance use disorders and involvement with child welfare services. To learn more about technical assistance services or if you have a question please email NCSACW at or call toll-free at 1–866–493–2758.

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