Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

One in Four 'Control' Mothers in NAS Study Tests Positive

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

One in Four 'Control' Mothers in NAS Study Tests Positive

Article excerpt

CHICAGO -- A study that compares babies who develop neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) with a control group of healthy newborns found largely what researchers expected to see--lower gestational ages, lower birth weights, and substance use in 100% of the mothers in the affected group. It's when they looked at the control group of healthy newborns and their mothers that they got a surprise.

"Something that was very alarming in our study is [that] one in four of the control mothers was also positive for illicit drugs. That is something we definitely didn't expect," said Pallavi Karunakaran MD, a pediatric resident at Children's Hospital of Michigan in Detroit.

The investigators compared 222 infants diagnosed with NAS and 490 healthy baby controls through a chart review at Hutzel Women's Hospital in Detroit during November 2011-December 2016. Among the NAS infants, 80% were white, and among controls, 89% were white.

The investigators also looked at maternal characteristics in both groups, with data available on 198 mothers whose babies developed the syndrome and 490 controls. "Interestingly enough, we expected that the mothers of the NAS babies would have some kind of drug use, [but] a lot of the NAS cohort mothers tested positive for additional drugs, other than methadone, which is usually how babies end up developing neonatal abstinence syndrome," Dr. Karunakaran said at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Drug use in mothers of affected babies included opioids among 81% (including methadone for 70%); heroin, 42%; cocaine, 29%; marijuana, 26%; benzodiazepines, 18%; buprenorphine, 6%; and barbiturates, 2%. …

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