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Mothers on Methadone: Care in the NICU

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When women addicted to opioids seek prenatal care, the treatment of choice is methadone. Methadone mediates the addiction by reducing fluctuations in maternal serum opioid levels and protecting the fetus from repeated withdrawal episodes. Methadone maintenance is associated with increased maternal weight gain, decreased illegal drug use, and improved compliance with prenatal care. Although the risks are less when compared with street drugs, the risk to the fetus is physical dependence. Despite the magnitude of this national problem, there is a dearth of literature to guide NICU nurses on how to best support mothers of infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) in the care of their infants. The purposes of this article are to review what is known about women in methadone treatment who have a history of opioid addiction and apply that evidence to guide neonatal nurses to support mothers of infants with NAS in the NICU.
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Keywords: NICU; methadone maintenance; neonatal outcomes; nursing management; substance abuse

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2013

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