Systematic mixed‐study review of nonpharmacological management of neonatal abstinence syndrome

Reference: MacVicar, SKelly, LESystematic mixed‐study review of nonpharmacological management of neonatal abstinence syndromeBirth2019001– 11


BACKGROUND: Neonatal abstinence syndrome is a multisystem disorder resulting from exposure to maternal addictive substance use in pregnancy. Withdrawal is characterized by neonatal tremors, feeding difficulties, and sleep disruption. The aim of this systematic review is to explore the nonpharmacological management of infants at risk of neonatal abstinence syndrome after prenatal exposure.

METHODS: A systematic mixed‐study review was conducted. A search of CINAHL, MEDLINE, AMED, PsycARTICLES, PsycINFO, and Web of Science was performed for relevant articles published between January 2007 and June 2018. Quantitative and qualitative data were extracted and thematic analysis undertaken. The findings were synthesized as a narrative summary.

RESULTS: Fourteen studies were included in the review, of which nine were quality improvement initiatives and five explored complementary therapies. The most common components of nonpharmacological management were consolation therapy and rooming‐in of mother and baby. Implementation strategies incorporated family integrated care and practitioner training in the evaluation of neonatal withdrawal. When nonpharmacological management was applied, there was a reduction in the need for pharmacotherapy and a shorter hospital stay for newborns. Potential barriers to effective management included unreliable assessment tools, judgmental practitioner attitudes, and limited breastfeeding promotion.

CONCLUSIONS: Providing and optimizing nonpharmacological management for the infant at risk of neonatal abstinence syndrome improves outcomes by reducing their length of hospital stay and the need for pharmacotherapy.