Background: Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) occurs within the first days after birth in newborns of mothers with a history of drug abuse. It may also occur in newborns whose mothers are undergoing substitution therapy.
Objective: To determine the presence of active ear acupuncture points in newborn infants with NAS.
Methods: Among newborn infants with NAS admitted to the Division of Neonatology at the University Hospital Graz between March 2009 and November 2014, an acupuncture-point detector (PS3 Silberbauer, Vienna, Austria) was used to identify active ear acupuncture points. An integrated optical and acoustical signal detects the ear points, which were then assigned to the ear map. A total of 31 newborn infants were assessed; 1 infant was excluded, however, because the mother had already weaned herself off opiates before admission.
Results: The excluded infant did not develop signs of NAS, had a low Finnegan score (3 points), and did not present any detectable active psychic ear acupuncture points. In all included newborn infants with NAS, active ear acupuncture points were identified: The psychovegetative rim was the most common active somatic area in each infant, followed by a few somatic and psychic ear acupuncture points. In all infants with symptoms of NAS, active psychic ear points were identified, of which the most frequently found points were the Frustration point and the R point.
Conclusion: The activity of psychic ear acupuncture points may be specific for neonates with NAS.
Keywords: addiction; ear acupuncture; neonatal abstinence syndrome; newborn infant.