Buprenorphine for the Treatment of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

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Abstract

Objective: To summarize the available data for using buprenorphine in neonatal abstinence syndrome and discuss these data in context of the current standard of care therapies, oral morphine and oral methadone. Data Sources: A literature search was conducted using PubMed (1949-May 2018) and EMBASE (1980-May 2018). Combinations of the search terms “buprenorphine,” “neonatal,” and “neonatal abstinence syndrome” were used. Study Selection and Data Extraction: All full-length, English-language studies were included in this review. Data Synthesis: A total of 4 studies were included in this review including 1 retrospective cohort study, 2 prospective single-center open-label randomized trials, and 1 prospective single-center, double-blind study. Oral morphine was the comparator in 3 studies, and oral methadone was the comparator in one. Buprenorphine was associated with a significant reduction in duration of treatment in 3 of the 4 studies and was associated with a significant reduction in duration of hospital stay in 3 of the 4 studies. In the randomized, double-blinded trial, buprenorphine had a significantly reduced duration of treatment (15 vs 28 days, P < .001) and duration of hospital stay (21 vs 33 days, P < .001). The requirement of adjunct treatment was similar between groups in all 4 studies, and buprenorphine did not have any significant adverse reactions in comparison with morphine and methadone. Conclusions: Buprenorphine appears to be a safe option for treating neonatal abstinence syndrome that is potentially superior to the current standard of care therapies with respect to duration of treatment and hospital length of stay.

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