(HealthDay News) – More research is necessary to identify the optimal treatment strategy for weaning infants with neonatal drug withdrawal, but updates for clinical identification and monitoring of opioid-exposed infants have been presented in a guidance statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published online Jan. 30 in Pediatrics.

Mark L. Hudak, MD, and colleagues from the AAP’s Committees on Drugs and Committee on Fetus and Newborn, reviewed literature to provide updated clinical guidance on the presentation of infants exposed to intrauterine drugs and the therapeutic options for treatment of withdrawal. The researchers examined evidence-based approaches to the management of the hospitalized infant who requires weaning from analgesics or sedatives.

The authors outline steps that clinicians and hospitals can take to identify and monitor infants exposed to opioids and other drugs of addiction, and provide updated information from the medical literature about current treatment options for neonatal opioid withdrawal. The researchers found significant gaps in knowledge concerning an optimal treatment strategy, including the criteria for instituting pharmacologic therapy, the drug of first choice, and a strategy for the weaning of infants with neonatal withdrawal.

“Each nursery that cares for infants with neonatal withdrawal should develop a protocol that defines indications and procedures for screening for maternal substance abuse. In addition, each nursery should develop and adhere to a standardized plan for the evaluation and comprehensive treatment of infants at risk for or showing signs of withdrawal,” the authors write.

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