Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) is a group of conditions that may occur in a baby who was exposed to opioids in the womb before birth. A study in Pediatrics in March 2018 estimated the incidence of NAS increased more than fivefold among infants covered by Medicaid between 2004 and 2014. Recent research supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and March of Dimes Foundation indicated that infants born with NAS were more likely to have educational disabilities in early childhood, such as a developmental delay or a speech/language impairment, than those born without NAS. It is recommended that pregnant women with opioid use disorder engage in medication-assisted treatment throughout their pregnancy.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has undertaken several initiatives to help pregnant and postpartum women with opioid use disorder receive adequate treatment. Earlier this year, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released Clinical Guidance for Treating Pregnant and Parenting Women With Opioid Use Disorder and Their Infants. Recently, SAMHSA announced a series of four fact sheets, the Healthy Pregnancy Healthy Baby Fact Sheets, that highlight the need to continue treatment for opioid use disorder throughout pregnancy.
The Health Resources and Services Administration has announced a new challenge, “Addressing Opioid Use Disorder in Pregnant Women and New Moms,” that calls for technical innovations to improve access to and quality of care for pregnant women with opioid use disorders, particularly those living in rural areas. The challenge will award $375,000 in prizes, and Phase I submissions are due on November 19, 2018, by 5:00 pm ET.