Opioid Detoxification in Pregnancy

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Abstract

Objective

Opioid withdrawal has been associated with poor fetal growth, preterm delivery, and fetal death. We sought to evaluate the safety of antepartum opioid detoxification in selected gravidas.

Methods

Between 1990 and 1996, women with singleton gestations who reported opioid use were offered inpatient detoxification. Predetoxification sonography was performed to confirm gestational age and to exclude fetuses with growth restriction and oligohydramnios. Women with mild withdrawal symptoms were given clonidine initially, and methadone was substituted if symptoms persisted. Objective signs of withdrawal were treated with methadone from the outset. Antenatal testing was performed once gestations reached 24 weeks. Newborns were observed for signs of neonatal abstinence syndrome and were treated as necessary. Obstetric and neonatal outcome data were collected.

Results

Thirty-four gravidas elected to undergo opioid detoxification at a mean gestational age of 24 weeks. The median maximum dose of methadone was 20 mg per day (range 10–85 mg), and the median time to detoxification was 12 days (range 3–39 days). Overall, 20 women (59%) successfully underwent detoxification and did not relapse, ten (29%) resumed antenatal opioid use, and four (12%) did not complete detoxification and opted for methadone maintenance. There was no evidence of fetal distress during detoxification, no fetal death, and no delivery before 36 weeks. Fifteen percent of neonates were treated for narcotic withdrawal.

Conclusion

In selected patients, opioid detoxification can be accomplished safely during pregnancy.

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