Objective To develop a simplified Finnegan Neonatal Abstinence Scoring System (sFNAS) that will highly correlate with scores ≥ 8 and ≥12 in infants being assessed with the FNAS.

Design, setting and participants This is a retrospective analysis involving 367 patients admitted to two level IV neonatal intensive care units with a total of 40 294 observations. Inclusion criteria included neonates with gestational age ≥ 37 0/7 weeks, who are being assessed for neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) using the FNAS. Infants with a gestational age < 37 weeks were excluded.

Methods A linear regression model based on the original FNAS data from one institution was developed to determine optimal values for each item in the sFNAS. A backward elimination approach was used, removing the items that contributed least to the Pearson’s correlation. The sFNAS was then cross-validated with data from a second institution.

Results Pearson’s correlation between the proposed sFNAS and the FNAS was 0.914. The optimal treatment cut-off values for the sFNAS were 6 and 10 to predict FNAS scores ≥ 8 and ≥ 12, respectively. The sensitivity and specificity of these cut-off values to detect FNAS scores ≥ 8 and ≥ 12 were 0.888 and 0.883 for a cut-off of 6, and 0.637 and 0.992 for a cut-off of 10, respectively. The sFNAS cross-validation resulted in a Pearson’s correlation of 0.908, sensitivity and specificity of 0.860 and 0.873 for a cut-off of 6, and 0.525 and 0.986 for a cut-off of 10, respectively.

Conclusion The sFNAS has a high statistical correlation with the FNAS, and it is cross-validated for the assessment of infants with NAS. It has excellent specificity and negative predictive value for identifying infants with FNAS scores ≥ 8 and ≥ 12.

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Published in BMJ Open, v. 7, issue 9, e016176, p. 1-7.

© Article author(s) (or their employer(s) unless otherwise stated in the text of the article) 2017. All rights reserved. No commercial use is permitted unless otherwise expressly granted.

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All available data were used in the development of this study and can be obtained by contacting the corresponding author.