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Neonatal Special Care Unit

Special Care Unit at Niswonger Children’s

A new unit for our youngest patients with special needs

Neonatal abstinence syndrome treatment

Babies with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) have unique needs.

In addition to needing special medication and extra attention, they’re often very sensitive to noise and light that wouldn’t normally distress a baby.

In a response to a region-wide epidemic of babies born addicted to drugs, Ballad Health Foundation raised funds for a special unit at Niswonger Children’s Hospital.

This 16-room unit provides an excellent healing environment for babies suffering from NAS. We anticipate this soothing environment will shorten the amount of time these babies must spend in the hospital.

The unit also provides private rooms for families who need additional time and space to bond with their babies.

About neonatal abstinence syndrome

  • NAS occurs when babies are born dependent on prescribed medications or illegal substances that the mother used during pregnancy. Opioids (painkillers) or benzodiazepines (for anxiety or sleep) are the most common medications that cause NAS, but other drugs – both legal and illegal drugs – may also be the cause.
  • Pregnant women may be using medicine as prescribed for addiction or pain treatment or may be using medication or substances inappropriately.
  • These newborns may need to stay in the hospital longer than other full-term babies.
  • After being born, babies experiencing NAS go through a painful and uncomfortable process that can last from days to months.
  • The babies often have a distinctive cry and may suffer from agitation, gastrointestinal problems and high sensitivity to light and noise.

Have questions? Want to help?

To learn more about the Special Care Unit, please call (423) 431-4847.

Other neonatal abstinence syndrome resources

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Digital Toolkit – United Way of Southwest Virginia

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome page – Tennessee Department of Health