Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Essay

1720 words - 7 pages

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) is a growing concern within the United States. This paper discusses what NAS is and the effects it has on the newborn infant. If first discusses the incidence of NAS as regard to maternal age, race, and ethnicity. It explains the types of drugs most commonly associated with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. However, I have excluded alcohol from this paper because it results in Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. This paper will then explain the types of physical symptoms associated with NAS for the full-term and premature infant. It discusses the different classes of drugs and the unique symptoms newborns experience with each. Furthermore, it discusses the long-term cognitive and behavioral effects that newborns can experience as they grow. In addition, this paper discusses how Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome is diagnosed and the how the Finnegan neonatal scoring system is used to help physicians determine the severity of NAS in each newborn. Lastly, this paper explains the treatment for NAS and the important roles of the nurse when caring for a newborn with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome.

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) is a group of problems a newborn experiences when exposed to addictive drugs that the mother consumes during pregnancy. NAS is a growing concern in the United States and can have significant adverse effects on newborns. Shortly after birth the infant can display many physical symptoms of withdrawal. In addition, substance abuse during pregnancy can cause premature birth, low birth weight, seizures, birth defects, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), and possible long-term cognitive and behavioral problems.
The 2010 results from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings reported incidence of substance abuse among pregnant women within the United States. The data showed that between 2009 and 2010, 16.2 percent of women between the ages of 15-17 years old, 7.4 percent of women between the ages of 18-25 years old, and 1.9 percent of women between the ages of 26-44 years old had used illicit drugs while pregnant. The data also showed substance abuse during pregnancy among different ethnic and racial groups. African Americans had the highest percentage in 2010 at 10.7 percent. The next highest was the White population at 9.1 percent. Hispanics or Latino’s percentage was 8.1 percent and the Asian population had the lowest percentage at 3.5 percent (“Results from”, 2011).
The National Health Institute (NIH) explains that addictive drugs such as amphetamines, cocaine, barbiturates, diazepam, and opiates consumed during pregnancy pass from mother to the fetus by crossing the placenta. This causes the baby to become addicted to these drugs along with the mother. Once born, the newborn no longer receives these drugs which then results in NAS (“Neonatal abstinence syndrome”, 2012a).
The Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford (LPCHS), lists physical symptoms of Neonatal...

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