Neonatal abstinence syndrome is becoming a big problem in North America. The babies born with an opioid addiction can suffer horribly, and require lengthy hospital stays and extensive medical treatment after they are born. Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center reserchers have discovered that computer based modeling used to simulate how the drug moves through the body of the infant from administration through complete elimination could lower the hospitalization time and the treatment required. The admission of newborns who suffer from neonatal abstinence syndrome has increased significantly in the last decade or so. Researchers say that it is critical that NAS is discovered and diagnosed before the newborn is discharged and taken home. If this happens then the baby must struggle through the withdrawal without any medical treatment and support.
The study on neonatal abstinence syndrome and opioid addiction provides hope for more effective treatment methods. Symptoms of NAS may not appear in the first 48 hours and many insurance companies only allow a 48 hour stay after childbirth. Lead study author and Perinatal Institute at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital researcher Eric Hall, Ph.D., discussed the study. “The incidence of neonatal abstinence syndrome after an infant’s in utero exposure to opioids has risen dramatically in recent years. Future protocol refinements may include personalized treatments, including strategies based on bedside pharmacogenetic analyses or individual opioid exposure profiles, which take into account individual genetic responses to drugs.” According to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital pediatrician Scott Wexelblatt, M.D., “Prior to this program, one of four women using opioids went undetected. Today we are detecting nearly all.”