Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) is a withdrawal syndrome occurring in newborn infants exposed during fetal life to chronic maternal opioid use. The sudden discontinuation of the influx of the opioid following birth is responsible for the symptoms that occur. NAS does not imply the fetus is born with an addiction, as commonly referred to in the media. Addiction is one’s craving for and inability to abstain from a drug, both of which a fetus cannot control. This entry describes NAS, its clinical presentation, the management of patients with NAS, the long-term outcomes of neonatal opiate exposure, and caring for mother and baby.


Morphine was first marketed as a pain reliever in 1827, followed by diacetylmorphine (heroin) in 1898. Although initially thought to be a safe, nonaddictive ...

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