An Outpatient Methadone Weaning Program by a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

Popul Health Manag. 2017 Oct;20(5):397-401. doi: 10.1089/pop.2016.0192. Epub 2017 Apr 21.


Through retrospective chart review, this study described characteristics and length of stay for a cohort of newborns discharged on methadone following an inpatient weaning for neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). Data were assessed for all term infants born between January 1, 2010, and December 31, 2014, admitted to the hospital with a co-diagnosis of NAS at discharge, for gestational age, length of stay, days on treatment protocol before discharge, time to once-daily interval methadone dosing, and hospital charges, as well as for categorical characteristics. The 53 patients were predominantly male (58%), white (71%), and covered by Medicaid insurance (72%). Mean gestational age was 39.5 ± 1.1 weeks; length of hospital stay was 11.8 ± 5 days. Common co-diagnoses were newborn feeding problems (26%) and neonatal hypoglycemia (23%). In conclusion, use of the study site's methadone weaning protocol, which can be easily replicated, resulted in a relatively short length of stay and low readmission rates for these patients.

Keywords: disease management; neonatal abstinence syndrome; opioid abuse; opioid use.

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal*
  • Male
  • Methadone / therapeutic use*
  • Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Pennsylvania / epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Methadone