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Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, or NAS, develops after a baby is born and no longer gets certain drugs or medicine from the mother. Some examples might be methadone, heroin, and percocet.
It is hard to tell which babies might get NAS. Some babies have NAS when a mother takes only small amount of drugs while other babies may only have NAS when a mother takes large amounts of drugs. Most babies born to mothers using drugs develop NAS and signs are usually seen within the first few days after birth. Some signs of NAS are:
High pitched cry
Trouble falling asleep and staying asleep
Tremors /jittering/shaking of arms, legs, face
Fussy – hard to calm
Hard time sucking during feeding times
Tense arms, legs and body
Poor weight gain
Skin rashes – more so in the diaper area and face
Frantic sucking – fists, fingers, thumbs
Warm to touch/sweating
Nurses use a scoring sheet to help them watch for signs of NAS. This score helps the team know if a baby has NAS. If a baby has a high score for a period of time, medication may help a baby be more comfortable. If a baby does get medicine, the medicine will be gradually lowered depending on each baby. Below are things you can do to help comfort your baby during this time.
Signs of NAS
Prolonged or high pitched cry
Trouble falling asleep
Excessive sucking of fists
Difficult or poor feeding
Fever / sweating
Sneezing / stuffy nose or breathing troubles
Trembling / jittering
Parents can help their baby best by staying nearby and holding their baby. Many parents find their baby calms best when handled gently, slowly and when held close to their body. This is because you and your baby know each other best. If you are worried or anxious, your baby can pick up your energy. If you find this to be true, try to take deep cleansing breaths and concentrate on calming yourself. If you need help, please ask a family member or friend. If you do not have resources close to you, call your baby’s doctor.
You can take your baby home when:
Your baby may have some of these problems after leaving the hospital:
Your baby’s doctor or nurse can help teach you ways to care for your baby. Also, work with your baby’s doctor to find community resources.
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