A neonatal abstinence syndrome program that focused on rooming in significantly decreased hospital costs, drug use, and length of hospital stay, based on data from a program in a single hospital in a rural academic tertiary care center.

“The aim of this project was to improve the care of opioid-exposed newborns by involving families, standardizing assessment and treatment, and transitioning to rooming-in for the full hospital stay,” reported Dr. Alison Volpe Holmes of the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, Hanover, N.H., and colleagues.

The researchers reviewed data from 163 newborns with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) treated at Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock between March 2012 and February 2015. Between the preintervention period and the study’s end, cumulative morphine exposure per infant dropped from 13.7 mg to 6.6 mg, length of hospital stay for newborns needing pharmacologic care dropped from 16.9 days to 12.3 days, and the average cost for newborns needing pharmacologic care dropped from $19,737 to $8,755. No adverse events were reported during the study period.

“We reduced system costs by more than half by caring for infants with prenatal opioid exposure and NAS in a rooming-in model, safely eliminating the use of critical care beds for this condition,” they noted.

Read the full study in Pediatrics ( 2016;137[6]:e20152929 ).