HealthDay News — Exposure to opioid maintenance treatment (OMT) in the womb does not seem to cause additional harm to newborns, according to a study published online Aug. 14 in Pharmacology Research & Perspectives.

Marte Handal, PhD, of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Oslo, and colleagues analyzed nationwide registry data and identified 333 infants in the Czech Republic and 235 infants in Norway who were exposed to OMT in the womb. Comparison groups included 106 babies from women who were hospitalized with opioid use disorder during their pregnancy in the Czech Republic and 294 babies who were diagnosed with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) in Norway. The outcomes assessed were gestational age, preterm birth, growth parameters, small for gestational age, miscarriage, stillbirth, NAS (in the Norwegian sample only), and Apgar scores of <7 at 1 and 5 minutes.

The researchers found that outcomes were similar in the OMT group and comparison group in both countries. Growth parameters were similar in the OMT and comparison groups, gestational age was prolonged by OMT exposure in Norway (adjusted b, 0.96 weeks; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.39 to 1.53), and the odds of preterm birth and Apgar scores at 5 minutes were lower in the OMT group than in the comparison group (adjusted odds ratios, 0.35 [95% CI, 0.16 to 0.75] and 0.21 [95% CI, 0.06 to 0.78], respectively). Growth parameters were also similar between infants of women who received OMT and infants of women with opioid use disorders who did not receive OMT during pregnancy.

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These results suggest “that it is not the OMT drugs themselves that are associated with worse neonatal outcomes, but other factors related to opioid use, such as comorbidity, socioeconomic, and lifestyle factors,” Handal said in a statement.

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