Treatment for Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome using Nonpharmacological Interventions

Am J Perinatol. 2024 May 10. doi: 10.1055/s-0044-1786744. Online ahead of print.


Objective: Management of neonatal abstinence syndrome includes nonpharmacological interventions, but their effectiveness may not be verified before implemented. The objective of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of a type of bassinet in the treatment of infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome.

Study design: This is a retrospective observational cohort study. Study setting involved a 24-bed open-bay Level III neonatal intensive care unit located in a metropolitan academic trauma facility. Participant inclusion criteria involved prenatally opioid-exposed infants ≥ 35 weeks with confirmed maternal opioid urine toxicology, required pharmacological treatment for withdrawal symptoms, and were admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit. Three subsets of study participants were analyzed over three different time periods: Group 1 were infants admitted during 2019 without nonpharmacological intervention, Group 2 who were admitted from September 2021 to February 2022 and received nonpharmacological interventions, and Group 3 included those admitted from February 2022 to March 2023 who received the same interventions as Group 2 but were managed in bassinets being used in other local facilities for neonatal abstinence syndrome.

Results: Group 3 had significant increases in length of stay compared with Group 1 (p = 0.006) and Group 2 (p = 0.013). Group 3 had a significantly greater length of treatment than Group 1 (p = 0.041) and a significantly higher total mg/kg morphine exposure than Group 1 (p = 0.006).

Conclusion: Addition of the bassinet for nonpharmacological management of infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome appeared to prolong length of stay, length of treatment, and increase total mg/kg morphine exposure. As a retrospective nonrandomized study, weakness of low certainty of causality is of concern but findings strongly warrant further research before devices such as the bassinet used in this study are adopted for routine neonatal abstinence syndrome care.

Key points: · Special bassinets are promoted to enhance sleep and decrease agitation.. · Such bassinets may assist infants undergoing drug withdrawal.. · Study of the bassinet failed to show benefit to this population..