What can happen to babies exposed to opioids in the womb

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.