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Research Letter
November 2016

Rates of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Amid Efforts to Combat the Opioid Abuse Epidemic

Author Affiliations
  • 1Institute for Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy, Department of Pharmacy Practice and Sciences, University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy, Lexington
JAMA Pediatr. 2016;170(11):1110-1112. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2016.2150

The United States is experiencing a rapid increase in neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) caused by in utero exposure to prescription and illicit (heroin) opioids.1,2 Increases in NAS correlate with the well-documented increase in prescription opioid abuse.3 State and federal policy efforts to combat this increase in drug abuse have halted the increase in prescription drug abuse but are associated with an increase in illicit drug use.3 Despite the publicity surrounding the drug abuse epidemic, little is known regarding the effect of these policies on NAS. Further, there is a dearth of literature specifically assessing trends in NAS, predominately in rural states relative to the nation as a whole. We sought to describe the current trend of NAS in the United States and in Kentucky, a rural state that has a particularly high burden of opioid abuse.4

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