Babies breaking bad: neonatal and iatrogenic withdrawal syndromes

Curr Opin Pediatr. 2013 Aug;25(4):532-42. doi: 10.1097/MOP.0b013e328362cd0d.


Purpose of review: This review will summarize the symptoms, evaluation, and treatment of neonatal and iatrogenic withdrawal syndromes.

Recent findings: Buprenorphine is emerging as the drug of choice for maintaining opioid-dependent women during pregnancy, because of its association with less severe withdrawal symptoms. Recent findings suggest it may be the drug of choice for treating the opioid-exposed neonate as well.

Summary: Healthcare workers should be cognizant of the risk factors for neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), as well as its symptoms, so that nonpharmalogic and pharmacologic therapies can be initiated. With increased emphasis on pain control in children, it is likely that iatrogenic withdrawal will continue to be a concern, and healthcare workers should understand the similarities and differences between this and NAS.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / adverse effects
  • Buprenorphine / therapeutic use
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / methods
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome / etiology
  • Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome / therapy
  • Opiate Substitution Treatment / methods
  • Risk Factors
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / etiology
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / therapy


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Buprenorphine