Neonatal abstinence syndrome occurs when a pregnant woman takes addictive illicit or prescription drugs during the pregnancy. Drugs pass through the placenta and reach the baby. The baby becomes addicted along with the mother. At birth, the baby is still dependent on the drug. Because the baby is no longer getting the drug after birth, symptoms of withdrawal occur.
Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.