The effect of prenatal alcohol co-exposure on neonatal abstinence syndrome in infants born to mothers in opioid maintenance treatment. Academic Article uri icon


  • This study examined the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) on the incidence and severity of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).For this pilot study, 70 pregnant women on opioid maintenance therapy (OMT) were recruited from a perinatal substance abuse clinic. Subjects were categorized into three study groups based on the timing of alcohol use during pregnancy as assessed by repeated self-reported measures and a comprehensive panel of ethanol biomarkers. NAS outcomes included: duration of hospital stay, the need for pharmacological treatment of NAS, newborn age at the initiation of NAS treatment, duration of treatment and cumulative methadone dose administered.The study included a large proportion of ethnic minorities (81.4% Hispanic, 5.7% American Indian), women with less than a high school education (52.2%) and unplanned pregnancy (82.9%). In multivariate analysis, PAE was not associated with NAS outcomes; however, one newborn diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) demonstrated much more severe NAS compared to other PAE infants. Interestingly, 3rd trimester PAE was associated with a higher prevalence of microcephaly (62.5%) compared to the PAE abstaining group (36.8%; pā€‰=ā€‰0.08).In this study, PAE was not associated with NAS severity; however, further examination in a larger study is needed.

publication date

  • March 2016