Pilot study: Does an osteopathic treatment reduce the duration of the neonatal abstinence syndrome?



Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of an osteopathic treatment on newborns with withdrawal symptoms, whose drug-addicted mothers participated in a substitution program.

Method: Newborns from substance-abusing mothers suffering from neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) were treated in an in-patient setting. The children in the intervention group received an osteopathic treatment one to three times per week in addition to the medication- based detoxification and were retrospectively compared with a historical control group who only received medication. The duration of the neonatal withdrawal symptoms was evaluated based on the administration of morphine-chloride to the child in days. Additional measurement parameters were the maximum dose of the morphine therapy and the weight gain of the child during the detoxification.

Results: The duration of the morphine substitution of the newborns with NAS was 19 days (8-49) in the intervention group (n=6), while it was 12.5 days (6-34) in the control group (n=34). The maximum substitution with morphine-chloride was 0.45 mg / day (0,2-0,9) in the intervention group, compared with 0.3 mg / day (0,19-0,6) in the control group.

Discussion: Since the duration and intensity of the NAS was very variable and apparently mainly dependent on the substitution medication of the mother and in particular her parallel consumption, a continuation of this study with the chosen criteria did not seem advisable. However, the osteopathic treatments met with acceptance, tolerance and positive reactions from both mothers and children. Thus a re-evaluation of the inclusion criteria and a randomization of groups within the scope of a multicentre study is planned, taking into account the type of substitution and the parallel consumption of other substances of the mothers. It should also facilitate continuing treatment in case of transfer to another hospital.