“Eat, Sleep, Console” reduces hospital stay and need for medication among opioid-exposed infants
Researchers have found the “Eat, Sleep, Console” (ESC) care approach to be more effective than using the Finnegan Neonatal Abstinence Scoring Tool (FNAST) to assess and manage opioid-exposed newborns, according to a national, randomized controlled clinical trial funded by the National Institutes of Health. Newborns cared for with ESC were medically ready for discharge approximately 6.7 days earlier and 63% less likely to receive medication as part of their treatment, compared to newborns cared for with FNAST. ESC prioritizes non-pharmacologic approaches to care, such as a low-stimulation environment, swaddling, skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding. ESC also encourages parental involvement in the care and assessment of their infants. These findings are based on the hospital outcomes of a large and geographically diverse group of opioid-exposed infants. A two-year follow-up study of a subset of infants is ongoing. The current findings are published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
“Medical care for newborns who were exposed to opioids during pregnancy varies widely across hospitals,” said Diana W. Bianchi, M.D., director of NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), which co-led the study with the NIH Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Program. “These findings are an important step toward standard, evidence-based guidance for the care of these infants.”
Opioid-exposed newborns may develop symptoms of neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS), which includes tremors; excessive crying and irritability; and problems with sleeping and feeding. For the past 50 years, FNAST has been the traditional assessment tool for infants with NOWS. FNAST is an extensive scoring system that assesses signs of withdrawal in more than 20 areas. Concerns have been raised about its subjectivity and overestimation of the need for opioid medication.
This page was last updated on Wednesday, May 3, 2023