Neonatal abstinence syndrome--postnatal ward versus neonatal unit management

Eur J Pediatr. 2010 Jan;169(1):95-8. doi: 10.1007/s00431-009-0994-0. Epub 2009 May 14.


Aim: The aim of this cohort study was to test the hypothesis that caring for infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) with their mothers on the postnatal ward rather than admit them to the neonatal unit would reduce treatment duration and length of hospital stay.

Results: The outcomes of infants with NAS cared for in 2002-2005 (Group A, n = 42) and 2006-2007 (Group B, n = 18) were compared. Group A infants were admitted to the neonatal unit for assessment and treatment as necessary, but Group B infants remained on the postnatal ward with their mother. Sixty infants (median gestational age 39, range 26-42 weeks) were included in the study. The proportion of infants in Group B compared to Group A requiring treatment for NAS was lower (45% versus 11%, p = 0.012) and the durations of treatment (mean 12.7 versus 7.3 days, p = 0.05) and hospital stay (mean 19.8 versus 15.9 days, p = 0.012) were shorter in Group B. No infant in either group was readmitted within the next 2 months.

Conclusions: These results suggest caring for infants with NAS on the postnatal ward rather than the neonatal unit reduces the need for treatment and duration of hospital stay.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal*
  • Length of Stay / trends
  • Maternal Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome / therapy*
  • Patients' Rooms*
  • Postnatal Care / methods*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prevalence
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • Young Adult