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Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome and Breastfeeding

Is there evidence that breastfeeding reduces the severity of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) and the duration of hospitalization for infants born with NAS? This is the topic of a recent study that reviewed research published in the last 10 years.

The authors found 10 studies that evaluated the effect of breastfeeding on NAS among babies born to mothers who were on methadone or buprenorphine during pregnancy. The studies reported on whether breastfeeding had an effect on the severity of NAS, the amount of pharmacologic treatment needed, and the duration of time the infants were in the hospital after birth.

What do you think is the effect of breastfeeding on neonatal abstinence syndrome, and the duration of time spent in the hospital after birth?

  1. Higher maternal methadone levels during pregnancy lead to more intense neonatal abstinence syndrome symptoms, requiring more pharmacologic treatment, and longer length of stay.
  2. If the mother continues to take methadone or buprenorphine postpartum, her infant will take longer to go through the neonatal abstinence symptoms, and take longer to go home from the hospital.
  3. Mothers who are taking methadone or buprenorphine during pregnancy should be counseled about not breastfeeding postpartum, in order to not expose the newborn to these opiates after birth.
  4. 2 & 3

For the answer, click here.