Testing Umbilical Cords to Treat NAS

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Testing Umbilical Cords to Treat NAS

Within the past few years, the number of babies born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) has spiked. NAS occurs when baby is born to mothers who have been using or abusing opioid drugs like oxycodone, heroin and other prescription painkillers. When a mother uses, the drug not only goes in her system but in the baby’s as well. In 2009, every 3.4 babies out of 1,000 were affected by NAS. In 2012 this number jumped to every 5.8 births out of 1,000.

When a baby is born with NAS, it is extremely important to quickly determine which drugs are in his or her system in order to treat the syndrome effectively. To do so, physicians must wait for the baby to pass stool that can be examined. But in recent years a new way to find out which drugs are in the baby’s system has been discovered.

In 2012, one company began examining parts of the umbilical cord after determining that the drugs were present there.  This is able to be done immediately after birth, which gives much faster results than testing stool. Now there is yet another company willing to do this and scientists predict this may become common.

Although testing stool has been very effective in the past, the faster physicians have knowledge of which drugs the baby has in its system, the better they can treat the baby.