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Aromatherapy as an adjunctive therapy for neonatal abstinence syndrome: A pilot study

John M. Daniel, IV, MD, MS, Lesley N. Davidson, MD, MS, Jennifer R. Havens, PhD, MPH, John A. Bauer, PhD, Lori A. Shook, MD


Objective: To determine if aromatherapy added to the current standard of care for opioid withdrawal syndrome decreases hospitalization and need for opioid replacement in neonates.

Design: Nonblinded, randomized control trial.

Setting: Level 4 neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Patients and participants: Thirty eight patients met inclusion criteria of greater than or equal to 36 weeks of gestation, history of intrauterine opioid exposure, primary diagnosis of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), and parental permission to participate.

Interventions: Infants were randomized to either a standard therapy group or a standard therapy plus aromatherapy.

Main outcome measure(s): Duration of therapy and length of stay.

Results: Our pilot study showed that the use of aromatherapy in conjunction with standard therapy reduced the duration of medication treatment by 41 percent and hospital length of stay in the NICU by 36 percent.

Conclusions: The use of aromatherapy appears to help mitigate symptoms of NAS and offers to be a viable treatment modality when used with conventional therapy.


NAS, aromatherapy, neonate

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