Testing & Diagnosis for Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) in Children

Tests

Symptoms of NAS may vary depending on the type of substance used, the last time it was used, and whether your baby is full-term or premature. Symptoms of withdrawal may begin as early as 24 to 48 hours after birth, or as late as five to ten days. Alcohol withdrawal may begin within a few hours after birth.

Symptoms of withdrawal in full-term babies may include:

  • tremors (trembling)
  • irritability (excessive crying)
  • sleep problems
  • high-pitched crying
  • tight muscle tone
  • hyperactive reflexes
  • seizures
  • yawning, stuffy nose, and sneezing
  • poor feeding and suck
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • dehydration
  • sweating
  • fever or unstable temperature
  • rapid breathing

An accurate report of the mother's drug usage is important in order for doctors to properly treat the baby. A neonatal abstinence scoring system may be used to help diagnose and grade the severity of the withdrawal. Using the scoring system, points are assigned for certain signs and symptoms and the severity of each. This scoring may also help in planning treatment.