What can happen to babies exposed to opioids in the womb

BY Leah Mishkin, Correspondent |

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, or NAS, happens when babies are exposed to opioids in the womb and experience symptoms of withdrawal.

Most hospitals don’t have a standardized protocol to screen a mother for an opioid addiction, so once she gives birth, the baby goes home and can experience withdrawal 2 to 3 days after birth. Attending neonatologist at University Hospital, Dr. Salma Ali, says a third of NAS babies will die if not treated for the symptoms they’re experiencing.

To combat this, University Hospital developed a standard set of protocols for staff to identify and treat a baby with NAS. Additionally, the hospital has a program to keep track of those babies, sometimes up until they’re 6 years old, to monitor their development and nutrition.