The Maternal-Infant Health and Opioid Use project aims to improve the quality of care of infants exposed to opioids prenatally or diagnosed with neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS), and of pregnant and parenting women with opioid use disorder (OUD). The project develops and promotes educational resources that support the patient and family-centered care framework, to focus on both, the systems of services for children with prenatal opioid exposure, as well as linkages to care and treatment for women of reproductive age with OUD. Overcoming negative social attitudes and stigma towards pregnant and parenting women with OUD are essential components integrated throughout all the project activities.  

Increased rates of opioid use and opioid use disorder (OUD) among women of reproductive age has led to a parallel increase in infants born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) and neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS). This medical condition refers to the medical complications associated with substance withdrawal in newborns due to prenatal exposure to opioids and other substances (e.g., alcohol). The AAP policy statement, A Public Health Response to Opioid Use in Pregnancy (Patrick SW, Schiff DM et al. Pediatrics, 2017) outlines the clinical recommendations and opportunities for pediatricians for getting involved and for providing the best clinical care to their patients and their families.

Pediatricians working with families affected by opioid use have the opportunity to identify and engage mothers into treatment and recovery. Pediatricians play a key role in assuring infants and their families receive individualized care and treatment. Through the family-centered system of services and the pediatric medical home framework, the mother-infant dyad can have a healthy start and achieve the most positive health outcomes.

This project is supported by the Cooperative Agreement Number, NU38OT000282, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Department of Health, and Human Services.


The Maternal-Infant Health and Opioid Use program provides educational resources and support to pediatricians and other health care professionals working with families and infants affected by opioid use.

Podcasts and Voices Blogs

Learn what others are saying. Listen to our podcasts and read our blog posts.

Acknowledging Stigma and Embracing Empathy When Treating Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome – Episode 106

In this episode Kenneth Zoucha, MD, FAAP, a recognized leader in addiction medicine for the state of Nebraska, talks about the stigmas around substance use disorder and neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome. Hosts David Hill, MD, FAAP, and Joanna Parga-Belinkie, MD, FAAP, also talk to Tamela Milan-Alexander, MPPA, about her history with opioid use disorder, which led to a high-risk pregnancy, and her subsequent advocacy for mothers and their babies.

Pediatrics on Call


March 15, 2022

Treating Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome - Episode 46

In this episode Stephen W. Patrick, MD, MPH, MS, FAAP, co-author of the AAP policy statement on Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome, describes treating women with opioid use disorder and their babies.

Pediatrics on Call


February 23, 2021

Babies Moms, and Substance Use: It's Time to Reframe and Connect on Common Ground

In this AAP Voices post, Dr. Rachel H. Alinsky discusses families affected by prenatal substance exposure need empathetic care and referrals to evidence-based treatment from pediatricians who set aside judgement and personal bias.

Voices Blog


July 22, 2019

This project is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $500,000 with 100 percent funded by CDC/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by CDC/HHS, or the U.S. Government.