Back to audience

Best practice №39

Educate clinical providers and staff about Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

by Jadene Wong, Katherine Weiss

Last updated May 6th, 2020

Download Best Practice as PDF


Educate clinical providers and staff regarding: 
  • NAS identification, evaluation, and treatment of the newborn

  • Supportive, non-judgmental interactions with parents

Why we are recommending this best practice

Clinical providers and staff who have a strong foundation of knowledge can educate and support families.  Positive provider and staff interactions with families of newborns with NAS contribute to better outcomes and a successful hospital experience. Please refer to Best Practice 34 for more information about provider and staff education on OUD.

Strategies for implementation

  • CME and in-service training can provide the information and skills needed to educate clinical providers and staff.

  • Families can play a valuable role in the care team.  They should be encouraged to initiate skin-to-skin contact and participate in other aspects of care.

  • Mothers should be encouraged to breastfeed if on a stable MAT dose.  Breastfeeding is discouraged if the mother is using marijuana, and mothers should be counseled about the potential risk of exposure during lactation. Breastfeeding is contraindicated if the mother is taking illicit drugs or is infected with HIV.

  • Patient care and communication of clinical information should be clear and consistent.

  • Provider and staff interactions with families should be supportive and non-judgmental (see Resources section below). 

  • Providers and staff should be aware of external factors involved, such as a parent dealing with the disease of addiction and its treatment.



  • Atwood EC, Sollender G, Hsu E, et al. A Qualitative Study of Family Experience With Hospitalization for Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. Hospital pediatrics. 2016;6(10):626-632.
  • Kocherlakota P. Neonatal abstinence syndrome. Pediatrics. 2014;134(2):e547-561.

Jadene Wong


Dr. Jadene Wong is Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine. She has practiced as a neonatal hospitalist at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford for more than 10 years, and practiced in primary care outpatient community settings for more than 20 years.  She is a member of the task force for the joint CMQCC/CPQCC Mother & Baby Substance Exposure Initiative. She is also the Newborn Clinical Lead for this project and mentors Central California hospitals participating in the initiative.

Katherine Weiss


Dr. Katherine Weiss is a neonatologist at Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego and an assistant professor of pediatrics at UC San Diego. Previously, she was a clinical assistant professor of pediatrics for the University of Arizona.

Her areas of interest are in quality improvement, education and international health.