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Online compendium helps navigate neonatal abstinence syndrome care :

August 8, 2019

Ashley Lucke, M.D., FAAP, used advocacy resources when she testified before the D.C. government on behalf of women and infants affected by NAS.

Every 15 to 20 minutes, a baby with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) is born in the U.S.

As the opioid crisis grows, the AAP Section on Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine Trainees and Early Career Neonatologists (TECAN) is stepping up efforts to help those who are taking care of mothers and infants affected by NAS.

Navigating NAS,, is a comprehensive online resource that provides educational materials for clinical practice, resources for families, webinars and social media outreach. Information is provided on opioids and public policy, pregnancy and substance use, caring for the mother-infant dyad with NAS and living with NAS beyond infancy to adolescence.

Pregnant mothers who are addicted to opioids face stigma, guilt and societal judgment, and need support from pediatricians, said TECAN Chair Ashley M. Lucke, M.D., FAAP. Some states press child abuse charges against pregnant women who use opiates or other illicit substances.

“A mom who’s smoking tobacco isn’t having her baby taken away from her after birth because she smoked tobacco during the pregnancy,” she said. “It takes only five pills before you can have an increased propensity for becoming dependent on opioids. This (could happen to) anybody who has had a dental procedure or a car accident.”

Pregnant mothers with an opioid use disorder are at greater risk of sexually transmitted infections, poor nutrition and legal issues. Babies are at higher risk of being born prematurely and having neurodevelopmental disabilities, difficult temperaments and other special needs that will affect all stages of their development.

Navigating NAS connects pediatricians to the latest information for their care.

Legal and advocacy resources are available for those supporting bills, educating legislators, providing testimony and developing action plans.

Dr. Lucke encourages AAP members to speak up for “the moms who really feel so stigmatized and as though they don’t have a voice anymore, but also the babies who are counting on us to help give them the best shot that they have to be healthy and successful and thrive.”

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