BACKGROUND:

Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) is usually treated with opiate derivatives and supported with nonpharmacological treatment.

METHODS:

This prospective, randomized, controlled, blinded, single-center study was carried out between March 2009 and November 2014. Newborn infants diagnosed with NAS after maternal opioid substitution therapy were eligible for inclusion. Infants were randomly allocated to the acupuncture group (combining laser acupuncture and pharmacological therapy of morphine and phenobarbital) or control group (pharmacological therapy alone). Laser acupuncture was performed with a LABpen MED 10 (675 nm/10 mW) at 5 ear and 4 body acupuncture points, bilaterally, and sessions were repeated every day. The primary outcome measure was duration of oral morphine therapy for NAS. Secondary outcomes included highest single Finnegan score, time to highest single Finnegan score, maximum amount of oral morphine solution (in milliliters per kilogram and milligrams per kilogram), time to maximum amount of oral morphine solution, and length of hospital stay.

RESULTS:

Twenty-eight newborns (14 in each group) were eligible for analysis. Duration of oral morphine therapy was significantly reduced in the acupuncture group compared with the control group (28 vs 39 days, respectively, P = .019). In addition, we observed a significantly reduced length of hospital stay in the acupuncture group compared with the control group (35 days [interquartile range 25 to 47] vs 50 days [36 to 66], P = .048).

CONCLUSIONS:

Adjunctive laser acupuncture significantly reduced the duration of morphine therapy in newborns with NAS.

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