Transforming Health Care Through Evidence and Collaboration
Transforming Health Care Through Evidence and Collaboration
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Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome - Strategies for States and Health Plans

July 16, 2014 | 09:30 AM
11:00 AM ET

With the epidemic of prescription painkiller abuse and related increase in heroin dependence, the health system is facing an alarming rise in neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). NAS afflicts newborns exposed to drugs, most commonly opioids, while in utero. These infants may experience withdrawal symptoms like vomiting, weight loss, hypersensitivity to light and sound, seizures, and potential long-term developmental effects. Between 2000 and 2009 NAS incidence tripled, stirring the public and private health sectors to find better ways to identify and treat pregnant women struggling with addiction.

This webinar highlighted strategies for preventing and treating neonatal abstinence syndrome. Speakers discussed the following:

  • Recent trends in opioid abuse and NAS, with an overview of federally-led prevention efforts
  • The impact of rising NAS rates across the states, including the implications for Medicaid, and examples of state-level action
  • A health plan-led initiative to improve care coordination and social support for pregnant women in treatment for addiction
  • The latest in NAS treatment, and an assessment of where public and private investments would be most beneficial


Cecilia Spitznas
White House Office of National Drug Control Policy
Scott Pierce
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee
Mark Hudak
University of Florida College of Medicine
Leslie Erdelack
Injury Prevention Association of State and Territorial Health Officials

Presentation Slides

Federal Efforts to Mitigate Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome in the U.S.
How States Can Advance the Knowledge Base for Prevention and Best Practices of Care
Partnering with Expectant Mothers to Prevent Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome
What Works in NAS Treatment?

Additional Resources

Additional Resources

Association of State and Territorial Health Officials

Broussard CS, Rasmussen SA, Reefhuis J, Friedman JM, Jann MW, Rishle-Colarusso T, Honein MA. Maternal treatment with opioid analgesics and risk for birth defects.American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology , 2011;204:314.e1-11

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Creanga AA, Sabel JC, Ko JY, Wasserman CR, Shapiro-Mendoza CK, Taylor P, Barfield W, Cawthon L, Paulozzi LJ.Maternal drug use and its effects on neonates: a population-based study in Washington StateObstetrics and Gynecology, 2012;119(5):924-33. 

Desai RJ, Hernandez-Diaz S, Bateman BT, Huybrechts KF. Increase in Prescription Opioid Use During Pregnancy Among Medicaid-Enrolled WomenObstetrics & Gynecology, 2014

Green River Pictures. The Opiate Effect. William Henry Philbrick Gates Fund. 

Hudak ML, Tan RC. Neonatal drug withdrawalPediatrics, 2012;129(2):e540-60. 

Jones HE, Deppen K, Hudak ML, Leffert L, McClelland C, Sahin C, Starer J, Terplan M, Thorp JM, Walsh J, Creanga A. Clinical care for opioid-using pregnant and postpartum women: the role of obstetric providersAmerican Journal of Obstetric Gynecology, 2014;210(4):302-310.  

Kasehagan L, Schlife M, Rough A. Local Perspectives and Recommendations on Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. National Institute for Health Care Management Foundation Women, Children, and Adolescent Health Update, 2012. 

O’Brien ML, Phillips SM. Substance Exposed Newborns: Addressing Social Costs Across the Lifespan. The Massachusetts Health Policy Forum. 2011.

Office of National Drug Control Policy

Patrick SW, Schumacher RE, Benneyworth BD, Krans EE, McAllister JM, Davis MM. Neonatal abstinence syndrome and associated health care expenditures: United States 2000-2009Journal of the American Medical Association, 2012;307(18):1934-40. 

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

United States Department of Justice. Attorney General Holder, Calling Rise in Heroin Overdoses ‘Urgent Public Health Crisis,’ Vows Mix of Enforcement, Treatment . March 10, 2014.