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The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released new Clinical Guidance for Treating Pregnant and Parenting Women with Opioid Use Disorder and Their Infants.

SAMHSA’s Clinical Guidance comes at a time of great need for effective opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment.

In 2016, over 20,000 pregnant women reported using heroin or misusing pain relievers in the past month. Newborn babies of mothers who used opioids while pregnant are at risk of neonatal abstinence syndrome--a group of physical and neurobehavioral signs of withdrawal.

“SAMHSA is filling an urgent need for reliable, useful, and accurate information for healthcare professionals working to treat opioid dependent mothers and their children,” said Dr. Elinore F. McCance-Katz, SAMHSA’s Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use. “Ultimately, the steps explained in this guidance will help the mother and her infant safely receive treatment for opioid use disorder and neonatal abstinence syndrome.”

The Clinical Guidance offers standard approaches to a range of real-world scenarios faced by healthcare professionals working with mothers and infants. For each scenario, the guidance offers clinical action steps and supporting evidence. The action steps reflect the best available treatment, including medication-assisted treatment for the mother and infant and appropriate types of social supports and follow-up services.

The guidance, which consists of 16 fact sheets on prenatal, infant, and maternal postnatal care, contains four elements: clinical scenario; clinical action steps; supporting evidence and clinical considerations; and web resources. Detailed, evidence-based treatment options for pregnant women with OUD including pharmacotherapy with methadone, buprenorphine, and buprenorphine/naloxone are provided.

The Clinical Guidance for Treating Pregnant and Parenting Women with Opioid Use Disorder and Their Infants is available here.