Background and aims Substance misuse within the UK population continues to be a public health concern. Many of those using illicit drugs are women of childbearing age.
Infants born to such women are at risk of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) and can require a prolonged stay on the neonatal unit.1
Understanding of the demographics and outcomes of this vulnerable group of infants and their mothers is vital in order to evolve services to meet needs and improve outcome.
Methods Retrospective review of substance misusing pregnant women and their offspring, 2006–2011.
Basic demographic data and specific outcome measures for the infants was collected over the 5 year period.
Changes over that 5 year time period were explored.
Results 442 women and their infants were included in the study. All infants were admitted for treatment/observation of NAS.
The majority of women were of white British (85.7%). Opiates were the most commonly misused substances. 18% of the babies were low birth weight. Breastfed babies were more likely to be discharged within first 7 days of life compared to artificially fed babies (47.6% vs 30.6%, OR 1.55, 95% CI 0.95 to 2.53).
Conclusion The management of infants with NAS continues to challenge. Breastfeeding leads to reduced intensity of NAS, and should be recommended to shorten length of hospital stay for infants born to substance misusing mothers.
REFERENCES 1 Dryden C, Young D, Hepburn M, et al. Methadone use in pregnancy: factors associated with the development of neonatal abstinence syndrome and implications for healthcare resources. BJOG. 2009;116:655–67
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