THURSDAY, Sept. 20, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Children with a history of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) are more likely to be referred for a disability evaluation and meet criteria for a disability, according to a study published in the September issue of Pediatrics.

Mary-Margaret A. Fill, M.D., from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues matched infants who were born in Tennessee between 2008 and 2011 with a history of NAS to infants born during the same period without a history of NAS using Medicaid and birth certificate data (1,815 and 5,441 children, respectively). Data were linked to special education data during early childhood (ages 3 to 8 years) from the Tennessee Department of Education.

The researchers found that, compared to children without NAS, those with NAS were significantly more likely to be referred for a disability evaluation (19.3 versus 13.7 percent), meet criteria for a disability (15.6 versus 11.7 percent), and need classroom therapies or services (15.3 versus 11.4 percent). In multivariable analyses controlling for maternal tobacco use, maternal education status, birth weight, gestational age, and/or neonatal intensive care unit admission, the findings were sustained.

“Results of this novel analysis linking health and education data revealed that children with a history of NAS were significantly more likely to have a subsequent educational disability,” the authors write.

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