October marks Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) Awareness Month. NAS is the result of the sudden discontinuation of fetal exposure of a substance, typically an opiate such as methadone, heroin, or prescription opiates. It can give afflicted newborns a constellation of symptoms such as: vomiting, loose stools, high-pitched crying, irritability, inconsolability, tremors, sweating, sneezing, poor feeding, or even seizures.
Because of the opioid epidemic in the United States, the incidence of NAS has skyrocketed over the past decade. For the NICU physicians and nurses that care for such unfortunate infants on a regular basis, following best practices for NAS care is crucial.