NAS Proving to be 'Enormous' Burden for Hospitals

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Yearly costs for treating opioid-addicted infants now tops $300 million, researchers say
Yearly costs for treating opioid-addicted infants now tops $300 million, researchers say

HealthDay News — Rates of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) have risen dramatically in recent years – and so has the cost of treating it, according to a study published online June 14 in Addiction.

The findings are based on pediatric discharge records from more than 4,000 U.S. hospitals.

Between 2003 and 2012, hospital admissions for NAS rose more than four-fold, the researchers found. Those infants ended up with longer hospital stays than newborns hospitalized for other reasons – 16.57 days, on average, versus 4.98 days. The typical cost was $16,893, versus $5,610. By 2012, NAS was costing the United States nearly $316 million in hospital care. That was up from $61 million in 2003. 

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"Increased public health initiatives are needed to target, educate, and provide resources for women of reproductive age in order to decrease antenatal drug exposure," the authors write. "Additionally, given the large variation in screening and treatment of NAS, further study is needed to determine the most effective assessment and management strategies. Lastly, novel therapeutic plans aimed at more cost-efficient management should be encouraged."

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