• October 18, 2018

Confronting the Opioid Crisis: Encouraging Bonding

Matthew Grossman, M.D.Matthew Grossman, M.D., Quality and Safety Officer, Yale New Haven Children's Hospital (YNHCH) describes the initiative he leads to help babies dealing with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).

“A mother’s love really can be the best medicine, and we work to use it as often as possible. Prior to 2006, our standard approach for babies with NAS was to admit them directly from the delivery room to the NICU. But over time, our team members noticed these babies' symptoms subsided when their moms held them as much as possible — something that can be a challenge in the NICU. We started to think our old standard of care based completely around medication protocols wasn't the right way to go. 

Instead, we’ve learned that bypassing the NICU and having parents involved as the primary caregivers — and really the primary method of treatment — makes the biggest impact for these babies. With encouragement from our care team, mothers at Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital learn to swaddle their infants and reduce stimuli around them. When mom stays close, babies are calmer and eat and sleep better.  

Resting more comfortably with their mothers, babies are able to slowly come off medication. This is especially important because infants with NAS require unique care environments. Today, instead of these patients staying at the hospital for four weeks, we are able to use half the medication and send them home in less than half the time.”