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Feeding Behaviors in the Opioid Exposed Infant

by Kelly McGlothen-Bell, PhD, RN, IBCLC
  • Duration: 60 Mins
  • Credits: 1 CERP, 1 L-CERP
  • Handout: Yes

As national rates of opioid use disorder continue to rise, the resulting impact on pregnant and parenting women and their children is immense. Severity of the central nervous system and gastrointestinal irritability in infants following prenatal opioid exposure, can affect their feeding behaviors and subsequently the caregiver-infant relationship. Feeding is a regulatory process that is difficult to characterize in prenatally opioid-exposed infants. As a result, caregivers, most often the mother, may struggle with feeding their infants. The complexity of an opioid use disorder for the mother and the subsequent opioid withdrawal of the infant may impede a mother’s ability to engage her irritable or sleepy baby.

Despite the known importance of feeding as a growth-fostering process, the evidence is lacking to guide recommendations for feeding management in this at-risk population. Evidence-based observational tools specific to the target population are warranted. Furthermore, feeding interactions between opioid- exposed infants and their caregivers need appropriate assessment and intervention to not only assist with the infant’s regulation and development of feeding skills, but also to support a nurturing feeding relationship. This presentation will shed new light on this important issue in infant feeding and highlight emerging research in the area.

Learning Objectives:

1: Describe multi-level challenges that influence the infant feeding experiences and outcomes of infants with prenatal opioid exposure.

2: Discuss signs/symptoms of distress and problematic feeding behavior in infants with prenatal opioid exposure.

3: Identify at least 3 tools or observation strategies used to identify problematic feeding behaviors and risk in infants with prenatal opioid exposure.

Lectures by Profession
Presentations: 12  |  Hours / CE Credits: 12.5  |  Viewing Time: 8 Weeks