Infant and maternal characteristics in neonatal abstinence syndrome--selected hospitals in Florida, 2010-2011

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2015 Mar 6;64(8):213-6.


Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) is a constellation of physiologic and neurobehavioral signs exhibited by newborns exposed to addictive prescription or illicit drugs taken by a mother during pregnancy. The number of hospital discharges of newborns diagnosed with NAS has increased more than 10-fold (from 0.4 to 4.4 discharges per 1,000 live births) in Florida since 1995, far exceeding the three-fold increase observed nationally. In February 2014, the Florida Department of Health requested the assistance of CDC to 1) assess the accuracy and validity of using Florida's hospital inpatient discharge data, linked to birth and infant death certificates, as a means of NAS surveillance and 2) describe the characteristics of infants with NAS and their mothers. This report focuses only on objective two, describing maternal and infant characteristics in the 242 confirmed NAS cases identified in three Florida hospitals during a 2-year period (2010-2011). Infants with NAS experienced serious medical complications, with 97.1% being admitted to an intensive care unit, and had prolonged hospital stays, with a mean duration of 26.1 days. The findings of this investigation underscore the important public health problem of NAS and add to current knowledge on the characteristics of these mothers and infants. Effective June 2014, NAS is now a mandatory reportable condition in Florida. Interventions are also needed to 1) increase the number and use of community resources available to drug-abusing and drug-dependent women of reproductive age, 2) improve drug addiction counseling and rehabilitation referral and documentation policies, and 3) link women to these resources before or earlier in pregnancy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Breast Feeding / statistics & numerical data
  • Cannabis
  • Causality
  • Chronic Pain / drug therapy
  • Chronic Pain / epidemiology
  • Cocaine
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Florida
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal / statistics & numerical data
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Maternal Age
  • Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology*
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / epidemiology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Survival Rate
  • Tobacco


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Cocaine