An evaluation of rooming-in among substance-exposed newborns in British Columbia

J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2010 Sep;32(9):866-871. doi: 10.1016/S1701-2163(16)34659-X.


Objective: Rooming-in, the practice of caring for mother and newborn together in the same room immediately from birth, is preferred for the general postpartum population but is not yet standard practice of care for newborns of substance-using women. Such newborns are usually separated from their mothers and admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit and treated for substance withdrawal if necessary. We compared clinical and psychosocial outcomes associated with traditional standard care models versus an interdisciplinary rooming-in model of care for substance-exposed newborns.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective comparative review of a cohort of substance-exposed newborns. Data were extracted from the British Columbia Perinatal Health Program database to populate the standard care and rooming-in groups. The main study outcomes were neonatal admission to NICU, breastfeeding, presence of neonatal withdrawal, length of stay, and custody status at discharge.

Results: Rooming-in was associated with a significant decrease in admissions to NICU and a shorter NICU length of stay for term infants, increased likelihood of breastfeeding (either exclusively or in combination with formula) during the hospital stay, and increased odds of the baby being discharged home with the mother. There were no significant differences between groups with respect to the presence of neonatal substance withdrawal or breastfeeding status at discharge.

Conclusion: Rooming-in may facilitate a smooth transition to extrauterine life for substance-exposed newborns by decreasing NICU admissions and NICU length of stay for term infants, encouraging breastfeeding, and increasing maternal custody of infants at discharge. This review supports the finding that rooming-in is both safe and beneficial for substance-exposed babies.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Feeding / epidemiology
  • British Columbia / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Mother-Child Relations
  • Pregnancy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rooming-in Care*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology