Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome refers to the symptoms a newborn baby experiences from in utero exposure to substances or medication, typically an opioid.

With increased attention on the opioid epidemic, it is important to remember most people do not intend to become dependent on substances. Prescription opioid overdose deaths are a growing problem among women. Subsequently opioid use among pregnant women has also increased during the opioid epidemic. There has been a dramatic increase in maternal opioid use and NAS — every 25 minutes a baby is born with NAS. Texas’ NAS Medicaid birth rates have increased every year since 2013. In addition, the Texas Maternal Mortality Task Force found drug overdose (typically opioids) was the leading cause of maternal mortality for women typically happening after 61 days postpartum.

Things to Remember

  • Since 1994, pregnant women have been a priority population in state- funded substance use disorder treatment services federally requiring immediate admission.
  • Pregnant women using opioids should not discontinue use because of the risk of maternal relapse, overdose, withdrawals, and fetal demise. In 1998, the National Institutes of Health consensus panel recommended methadone for medication-assisted treatment in pregnant women dependent on opioids. It is still considered the gold standard of care. Tapering (reducing the dosage) of medication-assisted treatment during pregnancy is not recommended.
  • Every health region in Texas has an outreach, screening, assessment and referral center which can assist any Texas resident with finding appropriate treatment and community resources.

June is Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Awareness Month in Texas

In recognition of June as NAS Awareness Month, HHS hopes to:

If You Need Help

If you need help, contact the outreach, screening, assessment and referral center in your region. OSARs are the first point of contact for those seeking treatment for substance use disorders. Texas residents who are seeking services and information might qualify for services based on need. OSARs are now located at local mental health authorities in all Texas Health and Human Services regions.

If you need support, contact the Pregnant, Postpartum Intervention program in your area.

PPI helps parents reduce the effects of symptoms of substance use by providing case management, home visits and education. Case management services include talking with parents about their needs and the needs of their children, referrals to community services that can help the parents and their children, and helping parents get needed education, services and supplies.


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