Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) has become a hot topic recently. Why? Because it is affecting babies in every city throughout our country. This condition occurs due to drugs being passed from the mother’s blood stream to the placenta and finally to the fetus. Because the drugs can lead to dependence, the baby is born with an initial dependence to the drug. We want to make note that babies are born drug-dependent not drug-addicted. Addiction is a choice, and these babies did not have a choice to become dependent on its mother’s drug of choice.

Withdrawals can be as common as caffeine or nicotine, but these withdrawals that the babies are having are mostly caused by opioids. Opioids are typically medications that relieve pain and are highly addictive. They also affect brain areas such as controlling emotion. Commonalities among opioids are: morphine, codeine, and hydrocodone.

The United States is seeing an increase in NAS each year. Between 2000-2012, an estimated 21,732 infants were born with NAS and research has found that every 25 minutes, a baby is born with NAS. In 2015, Tennessee had 986 reported babies born with NAS. Many women have legitimate reasons to be on opioids; however, several cases show that these women are not being properly educated by their doctor about the dangers of using opioids during pregnancy. NAS is 100 percent preventable.

NAS is not completely understood at this point in time, but ongoing studies are being performed to better understand its complexities. These studies include: long-term effects from NAS, what developmental issues are these babies at risk for later on in life, what the likelihood is that they might become addicts themselves, and much more. This is a serious concern for women of childbearing age and it needs to be addressed to help stop this problem.

For more information and FAQ’s about NAS, please visit Born Drug Free TN.