Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome is a condition where babies experience withdrawal symptoms following
the use of addictive illicit or prescription drugs either by the mother or when
these drugs are prescribed for the baby itself. Most commonly, it is due to the
use of opioids, but other drugs can also lead to this condition.
syndrome is a withdrawal symptom in babies caused due to the use of drugs such
methadone, barbiturates, fentanyl, diazepam or other narcotics.
There are two types of
neonatal abstinence syndrome. The first type is Prenatal,
that is, it occurs due to use of drugs by the mother during pregnancy
The foetus becomes drug dependant and experiences withdrawal symptoms after
birth, when exposure to the drug is suddenly stopped.
The second category is
which follows the use of
drugs for the baby in situations like emergency mechanical ventilation that
requires analgesia. Fentanyl
is the most common analgesic used in
newborns; It can cause neonatal abstinence syndrome if it is suddenly stopped.
Drugs which are
frequently implicated in the occurrence of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) -
of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome
present within first two days after birth in case of the prenatal type, but
might even present 10 days after birth. They can last from 1 week to 6 months
after birth depending on the severity of the exposure of the baby in the womb.
Symptoms of neonatal abstinence syndrome can be categorized into three classes
depending upon the system affected. The following are the different systems
Symptoms related to Brain or Central Nervous System:
1. Excessive high pitched cry
3. Increased muscle tone
5. Tremors Symptoms related to Gastrointestinal System:
3. Poor weight
4. Excessive sucking
5. Dehydration Symptoms related to Autonomic Nervous System:
2. Slightly elevated respiratory rate and blood pressure
4. Piloerection or standing up of hair
from withdrawal symptoms in the infants, there are the possibilities of
developing other complications due to exposure of the drug in the mothers womb
to also remember that in pregnant women who indulge in drug abuse, the chances
of using multiple drugs is fairly common. Hence, the risk of developing growth
complications is higher. Other risks in such mothers include passing on
HIV/AIDS infection to their babies, more so if they are IV drug abusers.
babies experience withdrawal symptoms of lesser severity due to smaller
duration of exposure to drugs in comparison to full term or near term babies.