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Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Associated with Educational Disabilities


One result of the opioid epidemic is increased numbers of babies being born with neonatal abstinence syndrome. While it’s known that prenatal opioid exposure can lead to signs of withdrawal at birth for exposed children, researchers wanted to see if infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome were at risk of developing educational disabilities later in life. A study in the September 2018 issue of Pediatrics, “Educational Disabilities Among Children Born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome,” published online Aug. 30, analyzed data for more than 7,000 children in Tennessee between ages 3 and 8 years old, both those born with neonatal abstinence syndrome and those who were not, to see whether children born with neonatal abstinence syndrome required more educational assistance. Researchers found that children born with neonatal abstinence syndrome were more likely to be referred for evaluation of an educational disability, to meet criteria for an educational disability, and to receive special education therapies or services. Developmental delay and speech/language impairment were the most common education disabilities identified. The authors conclude that it is important to continue reinforcing efforts to reduce non-essential prenatal drug use, and to continue to monitor exposed children as they get older to identify any developmental or educational delays early and begin interventions promptly to help them reach their full potential.


The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @AmerAcadPeds