• Article

Maternal methadone dose, placental methadone concentrations, and neonatal outcomes

BACKGROUND: Few investigations have used placenta as an alternative matrix to detect in utero drug exposure, despite its availability at the time of birth and the large amount of sample. Methadone-maintained opioid-dependent pregnant women provide a unique opportunity to examine the placental disposition of methadone and metabolite [2-ethylidene-1,5-dimethyl-3,3-diphenylpyrrolidine (EDDP)], to explore their correlations with maternal methadone dose and neonatal outcomes, and to test the ability to detect in utero exposure to illicit drugs.

METHODS: We calculated the correlations of placental methadone and EDDP concentrations and their correlations with maternal methadone doses and neonatal outcomes. Cocaine- and opiate-positive placenta results were compared with the results for meconium samples and for urine samples collected throughout gestation.

RESULTS: Positive correlations were found between placental methadone and EDDP concentrations (r = 0.685), and between methadone concentration and methadone dose at delivery (r = 0.542), mean daily dose (r = 0.554), mean third-trimester dose (r = 0.591), and cumulative daily dose (r = 0.639). The EDDP/methadone concentration ratio was negatively correlated with cumulative daily dose (r = ?0.541) and positively correlated with peak neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) score (r = 0.513). Placental EDDP concentration was negatively correlated with newborn head circumference (r = ?0.579). Cocaine and opiate use was detected in far fewer placenta samples than in thrice-weekly urine and meconium samples, a result suggesting a short detection window for placenta.

CONCLUSIONS: Quantitative methadone and EDDP measurement may predict NAS severity. The placenta reflects in utero drug exposure for a shorter time than meconium but may be useful when meconium is unavailable or if documentation of recent exposure is needed.

Citation

de Castro, A., Jones, H., Johnson, RE., Gray, TR., Shakleya, DM., & Huestis, MA. (2011). Maternal methadone dose, placental methadone concentrations, and neonatal outcomes. Clinical Chemistry, 57(3), 449-458. DOI: 10.1373/clinchem.2010.154864