Refined Approach Successful in Treating Infants Exposed to Opioids

A sad result of the national opioid crisis is the impact being felt by newborns. The United States has seen a large increase in the number of infants born with neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS).  Symptoms for NOWS include tremors, excessive crying and irritability, as well as problems with sleeping and eating. As the number of maternal opioid-related diagnoses increased by 131 percent between 2010 and 2017, the number of newborns experiencing NOWS rose by about 82 percent during that same period according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There is hopeful news about a refined approach to treating these newborns, which has resulted in them being released from the hospital sooner and with less medication than in the past. The Eat, Sleep, Console (ESC) approach encourages more involvement from parents and prioritizes care that reduces the amount of medication given to the newborn. This method focuses on having the mother tend to the needs of the baby in a soothing manner, resulting in better eating and sleeping patterns for the newborn. The results of the  study done by the National Institute of Health found that, on average, the infants who received ESC care were discharged after eight days compared to 15 days by the standard approach. Furthermore, infants in the ESC care group were 63 percent less likely to receive opioid medication.

Additional information on the maternal complications related to opioid use and NOWS is provided in a recent webinar, What Parents Need to Know about Opioids: Guidance for Conversations, which is part of the Partnership for a Drug Free New Jersey’s Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day Learning Series.

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