Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to navigation Skip directly to page options Skip directly to site content

Primary Prevention and Public Health Strategies to Prevent Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

Tuesday, August 16, 2016 at 1 p.m. EDT

August Banner

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) is a growing problem in the United States. NAS occurs when newborn babies experience withdrawal after being exposed to drugs in the womb. NAS can cause low birth weight and other complications leading to prolonged hospitalization. NAS can occur with a variety of both illicit and prescription drugs, including some prescription painkillers. The rates of NAS increased 5 times between the year 2000 and the year 2013. As of 2012, there was an average of one infant born with NAS every 25 minutes in the United States, accounting for an estimated $1.5 billion in healthcare spending that year alone.

Fortunately, NAS is preventable if an expectant mother receives proper care and treatment. One of the most effective prevention strategies is to improve preconception health care, and to educate both patients and providers about appropriate use of prescription drugs during pregnancy. Though there have been some recent initiatives to reduce rates of opioid use, few have included a focus on pregnant women and their babies. Screening of pregnant women can also be an effective prevention strategy by determining who may need additional care or treatment for opioid use.

In this session of Public Health Grand Rounds, you will hear how CDC is working with state and local partners to develop better policies for opioid prescribing among pregnant women. You will also hear how providers and patients can work together to prevent NAS by learning more about the choices that they make.


In this session of Beyond the Data, Dr. Phoebe Thorpe and Dr. Stephen Patrick discuss the causes of neonatal abstinence syndrome, and how health care providers and policymakers are working to address this growing problem.

Presented By:

Wanda Barfield, MD, MPH
CAPT, U.S. Public Health Service
Director, Division of Reproductive Health
National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, CDC
“The Problem of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome”

Cheryl S. Broussard, PhD
Health Scientist, Birth Defects Branch
National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, CDC
“Beyond the Tip of the Iceberg: NAS Prevention and Preconception Health”

Kimberly A. Yonkers, MD
Director, Center for Wellbeing of Women and Mothers
Professor, Psychiatry, Epidemiology, Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences
Yale University School of Medicine
Prescription Opioid and Substance Use in Pregnancy: Screening and Treatment

Stephen W. Patrick, MD, MPH, MS
Assistant Professor, Pediatrics and Health Policy
Division of Neonatology
Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
“Using Hospital, State, and Federal Policies to Improve Care to Families Affected by NAS”

Facilitated By:

John Iskander, MD, MPH, Scientific Director, Public Health Grand Rounds
Phoebe Thorpe, MD, MPH, Deputy Scientific Director, Public Health Grand Rounds 
Susan Laird, MSN, RN, Communications Director, Public Health Grand Rounds

Additional Resources:

MMWR – Incidence of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome — 28 States, 1999–2013

Turn the Tide Rx – Surgeon General’s Call to End the Opioid Crisis

NAS in the News

Continuing Education

This session is available for Continuing Education. Click Primary Prevention and Public Health Strategies to Prevent Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome for more information.

  • Page last reviewed: August 8, 2016
  • Page last updated: August 18, 2016
  • Content source: