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NIH funds research into infant opioid withdrawal syndrome treatment

Published on 03/10/17 at 10:22am

As the US continues to be plagued by its opioid crisis, which is claiming the lives of more than 100 Americans every day, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has unveiled that it is injecting funding into ACT NOW, a study to evaluate treatment options for newborns with opioid withdrawal syndrome.

ACT NOW, which stands for Advancing Clinical Trials in Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal, is funded by the NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and the NIH Office of the Director's Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Program. The condition it seeks to treat is caused by exposure to opioids during pregnancy. Despite raising rates of the condition, there are no standard, evidence-based treatments for healthcare providers in the US.

The study seeks to assess the severity of the condition through the use of laboratory methods and clinical evaluation tools in addition to creating research protocols in a bid to pursue best practice for treating affected infants. Prevalence of the condition has increased as opioid use in the US has also increased, with prescriptions for the drug class now four times higher since 1999.

"Public health and research communities cannot overlook the opioid epidemic's effects on pregnant women and their infants," said NICHD Director Diana W Bianchi. "ACT NOW will supplement research on opioids and pregnancy outcomes by addressing critical gaps on how best to treat and manage opioid withdrawal syndrome in newborns."

ECHO Director Matthew W Gillman added: "This project will allow researchers to evaluate the impact of neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome across the country and to develop a multi-site clinical trial in areas hit hard by the opioid crisis."

Matt Fellows

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