What is neonatal abstinence syndrome?
Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) happens in babies
who were exposed to potentially addictive drugs before
they were born. These can be:
• Prescription drugs (for example,
oxycodone for chronic pain, methadone)
• Illegal (street) drugs (for example,
cocaine/crack, heroin, crystal meth)
The baby becomes addicted to the drugs
while still in the womb. After birth, the baby
goes through a withdrawal process. Those
symptoms make up NAS

What are the symptoms of NAS?
Symptoms depend on many factors, including,
but not limited to:
• Type of drug used
• How often (and for how long) the drug was used
• How much of the drug was used
• Whether the baby was born early (prematurely)

Most symptoms of NAS occur within a few days
of birth. They include:
• Excessive crying and/or fussiness
• High-pitched crying
• Poor feeding
• Fever and/or sweating
• Rapid breathing
• Blotchy skin coloring (mottling)
• Diarrhea and/or vomiting
• Increased reflexes
• Trouble sleeping
• Stuffy nose, sneezing
• Seizures or tremors

What treatment will my baby receive?
Treatment for NAS depends on the baby’s health and whether or
not the baby was born early. Treatment may include:
• Intravenous (IV) fluids if the baby is dehydrated
• Higher-calorie formula or more frequent feedings if the baby
is not gaining weight and does not have diarrhea
• Medicine to treat symptoms
Babies with NAS are often fussy. To help calm the infant, try:
• Gentle rocking
• Decreasing noise and light
• Swaddling (wrapping the baby snugly). Your health care team
will show you how to swaddle your baby correctly

What will happen next?
Treatment helps relieve symptoms of NAS. Some babies
may have long-term effects from drug addiction. These babies
may be referred to a specialist in child development. Talk to
the health care team. They can answer any questions you
have about your baby

Glossary
Abstinence – doing without (in
this case, the baby is no longer
exposed to the addictive drug
after birth)
Dehydrated – too little water in
the body
Intravenous – through a vein
Neonatal – newborn
Withdrawal – group of symptoms
that occur when an addictive drug
is stopped suddenly

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