Comparing methadone and buprenorphine maintenance with methadone-assisted withdrawal for the treatment of opioid dependence during pregnancy: Maternal and neonatal outcomes
Pregnancy can motivate opioid-dependent women to seek substance abuse treatment. Research has demonstrated that although prenatal exposure to buprenorphine results in less severe neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) relative to prenatal methadone exposure, the maternal and other neonatal outcomes are similar for the two medications. Maternal and neonatal outcomes for opioid-dependent pregnant women receiving these medications have not been systematically compared with methadone-assisted withdrawal. The present study provides an initial assessment of the relative efficacy of both methadone and buprenorphine maintenance versus methadone-assisted withdrawal in terms of neonatal and maternal delivery outcomes. Data were derived from (1) the MOTHER (Maternal Opioid Treatment: Human Experimental Research) study at the Johns Hopkins University Bayview Medical Center (JHBMC), or (2) retrospective records review of women who underwent methadone-assisted withdrawal at the JHBMC during the time period in which participants were enrolled in the MOTHER study. Compared with the methadone maintenance group, the methadone-assisted withdrawal group had a significantly lower mean NAS peak score (Means = 13.7 vs 7.0; P = 0.002), required a significantly lower mean amount of morphine to treat NAS (Means = 82.8 vs 0.2; P < 0.001), had significantly fewer days medicated for NAS (Means = 31.5 vs 3.9; P < 0.001), and remained in the hospital for a significantly fewer number of days, on average (Means = 24.2 vs 7.0; P < 0.019). Compared with the buprenorphine maintenance group, the methadone-assisted withdrawal group required a significantly lower mean amount of morphine to treat NAS (Means = 8.2 vs 0.2; P < 0.001) and significantly fewer days medicated for NAS (Means = 12.0 vs 3.9; P = 0.008). Findings suggest that it is possible for some opioid-dependent pregnant women to succeed with methadone-assisted withdrawal. Future research needs to more fully evaluate the potential benefits and risks of methadone-assisted withdrawal for the maternal-fetal dyad.