Latest PHC4 Report Suggests Stabilization of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Rates in PA > Hospital Association of Pennsylvania


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Latest PHC4 Report Suggests Stabilization of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Rates in PA

June 06, 2019

According to a new report from the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4), rates of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) could be plateauing in Pennsylvania, a sign that efforts to curb the opioid crisis may be helping.

NAS occurs when an infant is exposed to addictive substances such as opioids while in the mother’s womb. Though not all substance-exposed infants develop NAS, those who do experience withdrawal symptoms after they are born. Newborns with NAS are more likely to have longer hospital stays and suffer complications including premature birth, low birth weight, and difficulties breathing and feeding.

PHC4 examined births during federal fiscal year (FFY) 2018—October 1, 2017 through September 30, 2018. Key findings include:

  • Fifty-five percent of all addictive substance-exposed newborns were diagnosed with NAS
  • There were 1,833 newborn hospital stays related to NAS, amounting to a rate of 14.4 per 1,000 during FFY 2018. During FFY 2016, the rate was 15.2 per 1,000
  • Substance-exposed newborns with NAS had, on average, a 15.9 day hospital stay, compared to an average stay of 3.4 days for all other newborns
  • Newborns with NAS were less likely to be discharged to go home, and more likely to be insured by Medicaid
  • NAS rates were highest among white/non-Hispanic newborns, and those born in rural counties

Efforts in the state to focus on reducing maternal mortality and improving care for pregnant and postpartum women and newborns affected by opioids recently took shape with the launching of the Pennsylvania Perinatal Quality Collaborative (PA PQC) during April. The Jewish Healthcare Foundation and its operating arm, the Women’s Health Activist Movement Global, are helping to administer the work of the PA PQC.

HAP encourages Pennsylvania hospitals to join this initiative aimed at identifying and implementing best practices specific to this patient population.  

For more information about the PA PQC, please contact Robert Ferguson, Jewish Healthcare Foundation’s Director of Government Grants and Policy, at (412) 586-6713, or Jennifer Jordan, HAP’s vice president, regulatory advocacy.

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