Buprenorphine treatment produces improved outcome for babies born addicted

December 09, 2010

Babies born into the world addicted to drugs because of their mother's dependence on pain medication, or opioids, may be weaned off the substance more comfortably, with a shorter hospital stay and at a reduced cost, if the mother receives a new treatment option during pregnancy.

A New England Journal of Medicine study published Dec. 9, co-authored by Vanderbilt's Peter Martin, M.D., director of the Division of Addiction Psychiatry, found that the newer buprenorphine is at least as good for both mother and child as the standard care methadone, when both were combined with comprehensive care treatment of opioid dependence in pregnant women.

"The baby comes into the world addicted to what the mother was taking," Martin said. "And everyone who comes in touch with these unfortunate babies realizes that they are very uncomfortable and incessantly restless.

"From this study we can say that both the mothers and the babies did equally well taking buprenorphine or methadone.

"However, we demonstrated a statistically significant improvement above the standard of care in important outcomes in the babies of mothers who received buprenorphine during the pregnancy compared to those who were administered methadone," he said.

The eight site, international, double-blind, double-dummy, flexible-dosing, randomized controlled trial is part of the MOTHER project, which stands for Maternal Opioid Treatment: Human Experimental Research.

Buprenorphine had previously not been well studied in pregnancy, although it is now widely prescribed to treat opioid addiction.

"It was only a matter of time before women who were receiving buprenorphine while they become pregnant were faced with the decision to continue it or change to methadone, the standard of care," Martin said.

"For this reason, it was considered very important to determine whether buprenorphine was at least as safe as methadone, so that doctors would know how to advise their patients."

Study results showed that babies of mothers who received buprenorphine compared to those who received methadone throughout pregnancy needed significantly less morphine to treat their neonatal abstinence syndrome, had shorter hospital stays (10 days vs. 17.5 days), and shorter duration of treatment for neonatal abstinence syndrome (4.1 days vs. 9.9. days).

The authors state that improved treatment options should reduce the public health and medical costs associated with the treatment of neonates exposed to opioids, estimated at $70.6 million to $112.6 million in 2009 in the United States.
-end-
The research was funded through multiple RO1 grants awarded to investigators at each site, a special NIH funding mechanism that allows large clinical trials to examine geographic and other diversities.

Martin's co-principal investigator at Vanderbilt is Karen D'Apolito, Ph.D., professor of Nursing. Other Vanderbilt investigators include Mavis Schorn, Ph.D., associate professor of Nursing; Joe Gigante, M.D., associate professor of Pediatrics; Barbara Engelhardt, M.D., associate professor of Pediatrics, Karen Starr, M.S.N., R.N., assistant professor of Psychiatry, and Meg Benningfield, M.D., assistant professor of Psychiatry.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Related Pregnancy Articles from Brightsurf:

COVID-19 has a prolonged effect for many during pregnancy
Symptoms for pregnant women with COVID-19 can be prolonged, lasting two months or longer for a quarter of the women who participated in a national study led by UC San Francisco and UCLA.

Relaxed through pregnancy
A group of researchers from Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin have been able to show that maternal psychological wellbeing during pregnancy has a positive effect on newborn infants.

Trajectories of antidepressant medication use during pregnancy
In an analysis of women who started pregnancy when taking antidepressant medications, investigators identified three trajectories of antidepressant dispensing during pregnancy: more than half stopped their treatment, a quarter maintained their treatment throughout pregnancy, and one-fifth discontinued it for a minimum of three months and then resumed it during the postpartum period.

Are women using e-cigarettes during preconception and/or pregnancy?
A new study of 1,365 racially/ethnically diverse, low-income pregnant women found that 4% reported e-cigarette use.

A better pregnancy test for whales
To determine whale pregnancy, researchers have relied on visual cues or hormone tests of blubber collected via darts, but the results were often inconclusive.

Cannabis use during pregnancy
The large health care system Kaiser Permanente Northern California provides universal screening for prenatal cannabis use in women during pregnancy by self-report and urine toxicology testing.

Questions and answers about cannabis use during pregnancy
A new study shows that women have many medical questions about the use of cannabis both before and during pregnancy, and during the postpartum period while breastfeeding.

The effect of taking antidepressants during pregnancy
Exposure to antidepressants during pregnancy and the first weeks of life can alter sensory processing well into adulthood, according to research in mice recently published in eNeuro.

Is ivermectin safe during pregnancy?
Is it safe to give ivermectin to pregnant women? To answer this question, researchers from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), an institution supported by 'la Caixa,' conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies that reported cases of accidental exposure to the drug among pregnant women.

Going to sleep on your back in late pregnancy
This study looked at whether going to sleep on your back in the third trimester of pregnancy was associated with average lower birth weights.

Read More: Pregnancy News and Pregnancy Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.