To examine the effect of infant feeding methods on neonatal abstinence syndrome.
Labor and delivery unit and neonatal intensive care unit, Eastern Maine Medical Center, Bangor, Maine.
One hundred fifty-two opioid-dependent women on methadone maintenance therapy (n = 136) or buprenorphine maintenance therapy (n = 16) during pregnancy and their neonates. The neonates were born between January 1, 2005 and December 31, 2007.
The researcher reviewed the electronic medical records of all opioid-dependent women who were on methadone maintenance therapy or buprenorphine maintenance therapy when admitted for labor and delivery and their neonates. Infant feeding methods were examined in relation to neonatal abstinence syndrome.
Infant feeding method did not predict neonatal length of stay for neonatal abstinence syndrome; however, there were statistically significant differences between formula- and breastfed infants in relation to the initiation of pharmacologic treatment for neonatal abstinence syndrome. For the group of methadone maintenance therapy or buprenorphine maintenance therapy exposed neonates receiving neonatal abstinence syndrome treatment, those infants who were breastfed began first line therapy with phenobarbital 1.1 day later (p = .008) and their length of stay was shorter by 9.4 days (p = .016) as compared to formula-fed neonates or neonates who received formula and breast milk. An analysis of variance with the three infant feeding methods (formula, breast or mixed formula and breast) revealed significant differences in neonatal abstinence syndrome treatment between formula- and breastfed infants but not between the formula-fed infants and infants fed formula and breast milk.
Conclusion/Implications for Nursing Practice
Opioid-dependent women on methadone maintenance therapy or buprenorphine maintenance therapy should be encouraged to breastfeed.