TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Union Hospital Terre Haute’s Women and Children Services has launched a new evidence-based model to care for infants exposed to opioids and other substances during pregnancy.

It’s called Eat Sleep Console, the effort focuses on the newborn’s ability to simply eat, sleep and be consoled.

When a pregnant person uses substances, especially opioids, their new baby may experience withdrawal symptoms after delivery. This is called neonatal abstinence syndrome, or NAS. Symptoms may include extreme irritability, vomiting, fever, diarrhea, body tremors and more. Infants may also experience NAS if the mother is working closely with a physician to receive medication-assisted treatment and is no longer using illicit substances.

Traditionally, medical providers would use an assessment tool and score the infant’s severity of symptoms to determine NAS treatment. This traditional method often resulted in pharmacologic care and longer stays in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Morphine was often used to combat the withdrawal symptoms experienced by the infant and extended hospital stays up to 23 days after delivery.

Union Hospital Terre Haute will now teach, support, and encourage mothers to provide more direct care to their infants. Developed by Dr. Matthew Grossman at Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital, Eat Sleep Console (ESC) is a simplified approach to monitoring and treating infants who were exposed to substances during pregnancy. Rather than scoring an infant based on the above-mentioned symptoms, ESC focuses on the newborn’s ability to simply eat, sleep, and be consoled. These are three basic functions of all newborns, regardless of their mother’s substance use.

It’s an effort to reduce pharmacologic interventions and the overall length that a withdrawal experiencing baby needs to stay in their care.