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School of Medicine




Background Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) is one of the consequences at birth affecting the newborn after discontinuation of prenatal drug exposure to mainly opioids. The objective of this study was to determine the extent of the problem in the state of West Virginia (WV) using a real-time statewide surveillance system. Methods Project WATCH is a surveillance tool that since 1998 collects data on all infants born in the state of WV. NAS surveillance item was added to the tool in October 2016. This study examined all births (N = 23,667) in WV from October to December 2017. The data from six WV birthing facilities were audited for 1 month to evaluate how well this tool was capturing NAS data using κ-statistics. Results The 2017 annual incidence rate of NAS was 51.3 per 1000 live births per year for all births and 50.6 per 1000 live births per year for WV residents only. The κ-coefficient between the hospital medical records and Project WATCH data was 0.74 (95% confidence interval: 0.66–0.82) for NAS. Conclusion The study provides justification to develop effective systems of care for the mother–infant dyad affected by substance use, especially targeting pregnant women in rural communities.

Source Citation

Umer A, Loudin S, Maxwell S, et al. Capturing the statewide incidence of neonatal abstinence syndrome in real time: the West Virginia experience. Pediatric Research. 2018;85(5):607-611. doi:10.1038/s41390-018-0172-z