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Breastfeed Med. 2016 Sep;11:343-9. doi: 10.1089/bfm.2016.0084. Epub 2016 Aug 16.

The Association Between Breastfeeding and Length of Hospital Stay Among Infants Diagnosed with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome: A Population-Based Study of In-Hospital Births.

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1 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of Maternal Addiction Treatment, Education and Research, Thomas Jefferson University , Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.



The incidence of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), a drug withdraw syndrome mainly associated with intrauterine opioid exposure, has increased considerably in the United States since 2000. Nonpharmacological options, including breastfeeding, may be effective at improving outcomes in this population. The objective of this population-based study was to examine the association between breastfeeding and length of hospital stay among infants diagnosed with NAS.


This was a retrospective cohort study of singleton in-hospital births to resident mothers in Pennsylvania. Hospital discharge data from births occurring between 2012 through 2014 were linked with corresponding birth certificate data. International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification discharge diagnosis codes were used to identify NAS neonates (Nā€‰=ā€‰3,725). Breastfeeding at discharge was used to determine breastfeeding status. Infant and maternal characteristics were compared by breastfeeding status and the association between breastfeeding and infant length of hospitalization was assessed.


Less than one-half of infants diagnosed with NAS were breastfed at discharge. Significant differences in infant birth weight and gestational age, and maternal education, marital status, prenatal care, smoking, and insurance status were found by breastfeeding status. A significant inverse relationship existed between breastfeeding and hospital length of stay for infants diagnosed with NAS. Specifically, length of hospitalization was reduced by 9.4% in the breastfed group compared to the nonbreastfed group.


Breastfeeding may be beneficial for infants diagnosed with NAS by shortening the length of hospital stay. Future prospective studies are warranted to further examine the benefits of breastfeeding and other nonpharmaceutical interventions in NAS populations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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