Positive Predictive Value of Administrative Data for Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) is a postnatal withdrawal syndrome experienced by some infants with opioid exposure. Hospital administrative data are commonly used for research and surveillance but have not been validated for NAS. Our objectives for this study were to validate the diagnostic codes for NAS and to develop an algorithm to optimize identification.


Tennessee Medicaid claims from 2009 to 2011 (primary sample) and 2016 (secondary sample; post–International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision, Clinical Modification [ICD-10-CM]) were obtained. Cases of NAS were identified by using International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification code (2009–2011) 779.5 and ICD-10-CM code (2016) P96.1. Medical record review cases were then conducted by 2 physicians using a standardized algorithm, and positive predictive value (PPV) was calculated. Algorithms were developed for optimizing the identification of NAS in administrative data.


In our primary sample of 112 029 mother-infant dyads, 950 potential NAS cases were identified from Medicaid claims data and reviewed. Among reviewed records, 863 were confirmed as having NAS (including 628 [66.1%] cases identified as NAS requiring pharmacotherapy, 224 [23.5%] as NAS not requiring pharmacotherapy, and 11 [1.2%] as iatrogenic NAS), and 87 (9.2%) did not meet clinical criteria for NAS. The PPV of the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification code for NAS in clinically confirmed NAS was 91% (95% confidence interval: 88.8%–92.5%). Similarly, the PPV for the ICD-10-CM code in the secondary sample was 98.2% (95% confidence interval: 95.4%–99.2%). Algorithms using elements from the Medicaid claims and from length of stay improved PPV.


In a large population-based cohort of Medicaid participants, hospital administrative data had a high PPV in identifying cases of clinically diagnosed NAS.