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Int J Circumpolar Health. 2019 Dec;78(1):1599275. doi: 10.1080/22423982.2019.1599275.

Research and policy priorities for addressing prenatal exposure to opioids in Alaska.

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a Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium , Anchorage , AK , USA.
b British Columbia Centre for Disease Control , Vancouver , Canada.
c Southcentral Foundation , Anchorage , AK , USA.
d Fairbanks Memorial Hospital , Fairbanks , AK , USA.
e Division of Public Health , Department of Health and Social Services, State of Alaska , Anchorage , AK , USA.
f Alaska Neonatology Associates.


The current opioid crisis in Alaska and the USA will negatively affect the health and wellbeing of future generations. The increasing number of infants born with neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS) has had a profound impact on families, health care providers and the child welfare system. This manuscript summarises the main themes of a Symposium held in Anchorage, Alaska with health care providers, researchers, elders and public health officials that focused on identifying emerging challenges, trends and potential solutions to address the increasing number of infants and children affected by maternal opioid use. Five areas of importance for research and policy development that would direct improvement in the care of infants with NOWS in Alaska are outlined with the goal of supporting a research agenda on opioid misuse and child health across the circumpolar north. Abbreviations: NOWS - neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome; NAS - neonatal abstinence syndrome; MAT - medication-assisted treatment; NICU - neonatal intensive care unit; OATs - opioid agonist treatments; OCS - office of children's services; ANTHC - Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium; OUD - opioid use disorder; SBIRT - screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment; ISPCTN - IDeA States Pediatric Clinical Trials Network; NIH - National Institutes of Health; ANMC - Alaska Native Medical Center; DHSS - Department of Health and Social Services; AAPP - All Alaska Pediatric Partnership.


Opioids; maternal health; neonatal; neonatal abstinence syndrome; substance abuse

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