NAS: Understanding Withdrawal Symptoms in Babies

Study Information

What is Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS)? 
When a woman takes an opioid medication (methadone, buprenorphine or another daily pain medication) during pregnancy, the drug travels through the placenta to the baby. If the baby is exposed to the medication for a long period of time, he/she may show signs of withdrawal after birth. This is called Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). NAS is a series of signs and symptoms in a newborn baby, including:
  • Tremors
  • Irritability
  • Crying a lot
  • Sweating
  • Poor feeding
  • Loose stools
The baby can have mild symptoms or can get very sick from NAS. The severity of NAS varies from baby to baby. How a baby will experience withdrawal is unknown.

What is the Establishing Risk in Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Study? 

Women & Infants Hospital is participating in a research study to establish risk factors for infants born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). The goal of this study is to look at certain genetic and cry markers, with the hope that doctors can identify babies at higher risk of developing NAS by analyzing their genes and early behaviors, such as cry.

This study is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The goal is to improve the diagnosis, treatment and outcomes for babies born with NAS. With your help, we want to determine if genetics and the way a baby cries play a role in NAS signs and symptoms. By identifying these clinical and genetic risk factors, we should be able to better understand the impact genetics and early behavior have on NAS and how babies experience NAS.

Contact Information

Interested in participating or want to learn more?

To learn more or to see if you may be eligible to participate, please call Erica at (401) 274-1122, ext. 48984 or email

Eligibility Criteria

Who can participate? You may be eligible to participate if you:

  • Deliver at 37+ weeks of pregnancy.
  • Received methadone, buprenorphine or another daily pain medication from a licensed physician or drug treatment program during pregnancy.
  • Healthy controls: Did not receive opiate medication during pregnancy.
  • Received adequate prenatal care.

What will I need to do if I enroll in the study? 

If you enroll in this study, we will collect genetic information about you and your baby by taking a cheek cell swab. Babies enrolled in the study will benefit from neurobehavioral testing within 24 to 48 hours after birth and at discharge. We will also be collecting a cry sample using a small audio recorder.

Contact Form

If you are interested in learning more about this study, please complete the form below. 

Women & Infants

Area of Study

Recruitment Status