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Comment & Response
August 21, 2018

Stigmatizing Language About Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome—Reply

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Medicine, Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA. 2018;320(7):723-724. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.7824

In Reply I wrote the A Piece of My Mind article after taking care of an infant whose devastating injuries from nonaccidental trauma shook me to the core. The infant’s situation seemed too senseless, too preventable, to comprehend. In search of meaning, I put my own experience down as genuinely as possible. That the infant’s mother was affected by substance use disorder during pregnancy was an important piece of the story.

As a trainee, I embrace opportunities for growth, and I appreciate the points raised in these responses. Dr Wakeman and colleagues and Dr Kowalchuk and colleagues identify problems in some of the language used. I regret certain word choices, such as referring to the infant as being “addicted,” and recognize how imprecise language can inadvertently perpetuate stigma.