Most babies born to mums on methadone exposed to several illicit drugs in womb

July 8, 2013

Most babies born to drug addicted mums on methadone maintenance are exposed to several other drugs while in the womb, and half are additionally exposed to excess alcohol, reveal the results of a small study published online in the Archives of Disease in Childhood: Fetal & Neonatal Edition.

While the results may not be representative of the UK as a whole, nevertheless, excess drinking and drug taking in pregnancy is a pairing that is likely to be more common than generally thought, say the authors.

It is known that women prescribed maintenance methadone use other illicit drugs, but the extent to which they do this has never been quantified in the UK, nor are there any figures on the prevalence of drug and alcohol use during pregnancy for this group of women, they add.

They interviewed 56 mums who were on maintenance during their pregnancy and carried out tox screens of the mums' and ' urine, as well as meconium - first stools - within 3 days of birth - to gauge levels of exposure to drugs and alcohol in the .

The samples were tested for opiates, benzodiazepines, amphetamines, cannabinoids, and cocaine, as well as fatty acid ethyl esters (FAEEs), which are by-products of alcohol consumption and indicate more than 2 units a day or more than 5 units in one go.

Most of the babies (51; 91%) had been exposed to other illicit drugs while in the womb, mostly opiates (73%) and benzodiazepines (70%). And 59% had been exposed to cannabinoids, 14% to amphetamines, and 7% to cocaine. The most common drug combo was opiates, benzodiazepines, and cannabinoids.

Almost half the babies (47%; 21) also had high FAEE levels, although only 5% of their admitted to drinking more than 7 units of alcohol a week during their pregnancy, a finding that has "significant implications" for the longer term health of an already vulnerable group of babies, say the authors.

Meconium analysis picked up prenatal drug and alcohol exposure far better than either urine analysis or interview, prompting the authors to comment: "It is well recognised that pregnant women under report illicit drug and alcohol use in pregnancy, often due to a fear of legal and custodial repercussions."

The pattern of drug and alcohol use in pregnancy will vary from region to region, they admit, but go on to say: "It seems likely, nevertheless, that excessive consumption is more commonly associated with misuse in pregnancy than is generally recognised."

Explore further: Moderate drinking during pregnancy does not seem to harm baby's neurodevelopment

More information: www.adc.bmj.com/lookup/doi/10. … dischild-2013-304158

Related Stories

Moderate drinking during pregnancy does not seem to harm baby's neurodevelopment

June 17, 2013
Moderate drinking during pregnancy - 3 to 7 glasses of alcohol a week - does not seem to harm fetal neurodevelopment, as indicated by the child's ability to balance, suggests a large study published in the online only journal ...

Exposure to antiepileptic drug in womb linked to autism risk

January 30, 2013
Children whose mothers take the antiepileptic drug sodium valproate while pregnant are at significantly increased risk of autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders, suggests a small study published online in the Journal ...

Many women still report drinking during pregnancy

April 13, 2012
(HealthDay) -- A considerable proportion of women report continuing to drink during pregnancy, but biomarker tests indicate they are drinking at modest levels, according to a study published online April 6 in Alcoholism: ...

Drinking during pregnancy increases risk of premature birth

April 11, 2011
Drinking alcohol during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of miscarriage, premature birth, and low birth weight. But there are conflicting reports about how much alcohol, if any, it is safe for a pregnant woman ...

Researcher examines the risks of early methadone exposure

April 5, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Longitudinal studies of children exposed to methadone in the womb need to accompany methadone maintenance treatment for drug-addicted pregnant mothers, according to a research team led by a University of ...

Doubling of deaths among sick mums-to-be amid poor evidence on drug safety in pregnancy

June 12, 2013
The lack of hard data on the safety and effectiveness of a wide range of drugs in pregnancy has hindered the treatment of pregnant women, contributing to a doubling of deaths amongst mums-to-be with an underlying health problem ...

Recommended for you

Incorporating 12-step program elements improves youth substance-use disorder treatment

July 26, 2017
A treatment program for adolescents with substance-use disorder that incorporates the practices and philosophy of 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) produced even better results than the current state-of-the ...

Concern with potential rise in super-potent cannabis concentrates

July 21, 2017
University of Queensland researchers are concerned the recent legalisation of medicinal cannabis in Australia may give rise to super-potent cannabis concentrates with associated harmful effects.

Findings link aldosterone with alcohol use disorder

July 18, 2017
A new study led by scientists at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health, demonstrates that aldosterone, a hormone produced in the adrenal glands, may contribute ...

Depression among young teens linked to cannabis use at 18

July 17, 2017
A study looking at the cumulative effects of depression in youth, found that young people with chronic or severe forms of depression were at elevated risk for developing a problem with cannabis in later adolescence.

Why does prenatal alcohol exposure increase the likelihood of addiction?

July 7, 2017
One of the many negative consequences when fetuses are exposed to alcohol in the womb is an increased risk for drug addiction later in life. Neuroscientists in the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions are ...

Researchers say U.S. policies on drugs and addiction could use a dose of neuroscience

June 23, 2017
Tens of thousands of Americans die from drug overdoses every year – around 50,000 in 2015 – and the number has been steadily climbing for at least the last decade and a half, according to the National Institute on Drug ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.