Date Presented

Spring 5-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Amanda Pribble, MSN, FNP-C, RN

Second Advisor

Sarah Hallowell, DNP, RN, CPNP, CNL

Third Advisor

Nancy Cowden, PhD


Hospitals across America have intensive care units dedicated to neonates who are born with a wide variety of issues, with the hope that specialized care will promote healthy growth so the newborn can return home with its family. Unfortunately, the majority of the country is seeing an increase in neonates being born with drugs in their system from their mother’s dependency during pregnancy. Delivering mothers who were addicted to opioids quadrupled between 1999-2004, which resulted in an increase of infants born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome from 1.2 per 1000 births in the year 2000 to 5.63 per 1000 births in 2012 (Kondili & Duryea, 2019). These babies are born with the substances circulating through their own body as a result of the drugs passing from the mother’s system across the placenta into the baby. Shortly after birth these infants begin experiencing withdrawal from the substance since it is no longer being provided to them through the mother. The withdrawal process is similar to adults, although often negatively impacts the baby for both the short and long term future. The traditional method for treating these infants is to administer opioids to stop the withdrawal symptoms then slowly wean the baby from medication. Since the incidence of infant drug withdrawal is increasing, some Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) have implemented programs and protocols for the withdrawal that promote healing and comfort without using medications alone. This has not yet become a widely accepted practice due to lack of funding or space (Mangat, Schmolzer & Kraft, 2019). This review of literature will investigate why these specialized programs are needed and in what ways the program benefits these babies.