As Opioid Use Climbs, Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Rises in New Hampshire

Introduction

The opioid crisis besetting every region of the United States directly affects more than just those who use substances. For a pregnant woman, a consequence of substance use can be neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS)—withdrawal symptoms experienced by the newborn.

NAS is on the rise in New Hampshire, but prenatal care for the mother can reduce or eliminate the risk. Newborns who are treated recover, yet mothers using opioids are often using other substances and confronting behavioral health issues which complicate recovery. This brief analyzes inpatient hospital discharge data (2012–2015) to assess the prevalence of NAS in New Hampshire; describes one hospital’s successful program for treating pregnant women and newborns; discusses how comprehensive and coordinated care and home visiting services provided through community based organizations can support new mothers and families; and discusses how a recent change to New Hampshire law intended to support child protection may be having unintended consequences.

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DISCLAIMER: This report is intended to support women, not to evoke shame.