Skin conductance at baseline and postheel lance reflects sympathetic activation in neonatal opiate withdrawal

Christiana Oji-Mmuo, Eric J. Michael, Jacqueline McLatchy, Mary M. Lewis, Julie E. Becker, Kim Kopenhaver Doheny

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Aim Skin conductance (SC) provides an objective measure of autonomic system regulation through sympathetic-mediated filling of sweat glands. This study aimed to test the utility of SC to detect sympathetic activation in neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). Methods Fourteen term (mean, SE: 38.8 ± 0.35 weeks gestational age) neonates with chronic prenatal opiate exposure were enrolled. SC (peaks/seconds and mean of peaks) was measured at baseline, during heel lance/squeeze (HLS) and recovery from HLS at 24-48 (mean 38) hours of life prior to treatment for NAS. Blinded coders with established reliability assessed neonates using the Modified Finnegan Neonatal Scoring System (MFNSS). Nonparametric tests were used to determine group differences, phase differences from baseline to HLS and HLS to recovery, and associations between MFNSS and SC measures. Results Neonates that would later require morphine treatment for NAS (n = 6) had higher baseline SC mean of peaks than those that did not require treatment (n = 8) (p < 0.05). Moreover, there were unique phase differences between groups and SC positively correlated with MFNSS (p < 0.05). Conclusion SC provides early identification of NAS severity. However, a larger sample is needed to determine sensitivity and specificity of SC for early identification of NAS and treatment effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e99-e106
JournalActa Paediatrica, International Journal of Paediatrics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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