A baby made out of a series of pills

The lives affected by drug addiction always extends beyond just the user alone. This reality is unfortunately particularly true for infants born to drug addicted mothers. Here we take a look at one of the most disturbing growing crises associated with the Drug Overdose Epidemic.

What is the condition?

Babies that are born from mothers who used certain drugs during the A mom holds her baby next to a picture of a baby in a wombpregnancy may be born with a condition known as Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (or NAS for short). Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome refers to a set of conditions that can be caused due to the newborn withdrawing from certain drugs.

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome is a serious condition that can be life-threatening to the newborn.

What causes Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome?

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome is caused when a woman takes certain drugs during pregnancy. These drugs, which cause dependence, are passed through the placenta to the fetus. The following drugs can cause neonatal abstinence syndrome (1):

  • Prescription painkillers, such as oxycodone, hydromorphone, hydrocodone, methadone, morphine, etc
  • Heroin
  • Benzodiazepines, such as alprazolam, lorazepam, clonazepam, diazepam
  • Certain antidepressants

What are the numbers?

The Opioid Epidemic has caused a massive spike in the number of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome cases (2)(3):

  • Approximately 32,000 cases were reported in 2014 alone, a 5-fold increase from 2004
  • A baby is born approximately every fifteen minutes suffering from opioid withdrawal
  • Babies born with NAS were 30% more likely to have respiratory issues
  • Newborns with NAS were 19% more likely to have low birth weight

What are the possible complications?

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome can be incredibly dangerous for newborns, and can include the following possible complications (4):

  • Premature birth
  • Birth defects
  • Low birth weight
  • Small head circumference
  • Sudden infant death syndrome
  • Developmental problems

Final Note

This article is intended for those considering a new way of life, free of the pain of drug and alcohol addiction. For more information on recovery and anyone seeking help with addiction and substance abuse problems, please call True Recovery at (844) 744-8783 or visit us online.


  1. https://www.marchofdimes.org/complications/neonatal-abstinence-syndrome-(nas).aspx
  2. https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/infographics/dramatic-increases-in-maternal-opioid-use-neonatal-abstinence-syndrome
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5843557/
  4. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007313.htm