The incidence of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) has been climbing steadily, according to a 2016 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The report, published August 12, indicated that the number of NAS cases rose from 1.5 per 1,000 hospital births in 1999 to 6 per 1,000 in 2013.

Yet guidelines for treating NAS have been lacking, according to a study in JAMA Pediatrics. The study, published online June 18, found that although several different approaches are being used, “no universal evidence-based pharmacological treatment strategy exists.” The article also noted that the FDA hasn’t approved any drug for treating infants who have NAS.

The authors of the JAMA Pediatrics study said that, without clear treatment guidelines, caregivers have typically chosen either methadone or morphine to treat their young NAS patients.

Study Details and Key Findings

JAMA Study