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Measurement of neonatal abstinence syndrome: Evaluation of short forms

Hendrée E. Jones, PhD, Carl Seashore, MD, Elisabeth Johnson, FNP, PhD, Evette Horton, PhD, Kevin E. O’Grady, PhD, Kim Andringa, PhD


Objectives: 1) How well do the short forms previously developed from the Maternal Opioid Treatment: Human Experimental Research (MOTHER) neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) scale (MNS) discriminate between neonates untreated and treated for NAS? (2) Can a short form be developed that is superior to other short forms in discriminating between the two groups?

Design/participants: This secondary analysis study used data from 131 delivered neonates in the MOTHER study, a randomized controlled trial comparing neonatal and maternal outcomes in opioid-dependent pregnant women administered buprenorphine or methadone.

Setting: Comprehensive care was provided at seven university hospitals.

Outcome measures: A 19-item instrument measuring neonatal abstinence signs.

Results: A five-item index proved superior to the previous indices (ps < 0.01) and discriminated between the treated and untreated NAS groups as well as did the MNS total score (p=0.09).

Conclusions: A short form developed from the MNS shows promise as a possible screening measure.


neonatal abstinence syndrome, pregnancy, opioid use disorder, MOTHER NAS scale

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