Neonatal opiate abstinence syndrome in term and preterm infants

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

147 Scopus citations


Data on 178 term and 34 preterm infants born to methadone-maintained mothers were analyzed to assess the effects of neonatal opiate abstinence in infants of varying gestational ages. More mothers in the term group (79%) than in the preterm group (53%) had abused other drugs during pregnancy (p<0.001). Mean (-SD) gestational age was 39.5 weeks±1.4 for term infants and 34.3 weeks±2.6 for preterm infants. On the basis of a semiobjective symptom scoring scale,m term infants had more severe abstinence symptoms and more prominent central nervous system manifestatiions than preterm infants. The severity of abstinence symptoms correlated with maternal methadone dosage in both term and preterm infants. Maternal multiple drug abuse (e.g., heroin, cocaine) did not influence severity of abstinence symptoms in either group. More term infants (145/178) than preterm infants (20/34) required treatment for these symptoms (p<0.005). In 13 of 178 term infants, compared with 1 of 34 preterm infants, abstinence-related seizures developed. Peak severity occurred 1 to 2 days earlier in term than in preterm infants. A less severe abstinence syndrome in preterm infants may be due to (1) developmental immaturity of either dendritic ramiflcations, specific opiate receptors, or neurotransmitter function, or (2) reduced total drug exposure during the intrauterine period.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)933-937
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Pediatrics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1991
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Neonatal opiate abstinence syndrome in term and preterm infants'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this