Ineffective morphine treatment regimen for the control of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome in buprenorphine- and methadone-exposed infants

Andrea Gordon, Olga Lopatko, Ross Haslam, Helen Stacey, Vicki Pearson, Anna Woods, Ann Fisk, Jason White

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    9 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    This study aimed to determine if morphine is effective in ameliorating Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) symptoms to non-opioid-exposed control levels in methadone- and buprenorphine-exposed infants. A prospective, non-randomized comparison study with flexible dosing was undertaken in a large teaching maternity hospital in Australia. Twenty-five infants in the groups of buprenorphine-, methadone- and control non-opioid-exposed infants were compared (total n = 75 infants). Oral morphine sulphate (1 mg/ml) was administered every 4 h to opioid agonist-exposed infants. Modified Finnegan Withdrawal Scale (MFWS) scores determined dosing: score of 8-10: 0.5 mg/kg/day, 11-13: 0.7 mg/kg/day and 14+: 0.9 mg/kg/day. Withdrawal score, amount of morphine administered and length of hospital stay, were used to assess NAS over a 4-week follow-up period. No controls achieved a score higher than 7 on the MFWS. There was no significant difference in the percentage of infants requiring treatment between methadone (60%) and buprenorphine (48%) infants. For treated infants, significantly (P < 0.01) more morphine was administered to methadone (40.07 ± 3.95 mg) compared with buprenorphine infants (22.77 ± 4.29 mg) to attempt to control NAS. Following treatment initiation, significantly more (P < 0.01) methadone (87%) compared with buprenorphine infants (42%) continued to exceed scoring thresholds for morphine treatment requirement, and non-opioid-exposed control infant scores. For treated infants, there was no significant difference in length of hospital stay between methadone and buprenorphine infants. Morphine treatment was not entirely effective in ameliorating NAS to non-opioid-exposed control symptom levels in methadone or buprenorphine infants. The regimen may be less effective in methadone compared with buprenorphine infants.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)262-270
    Number of pages9
    JournalJournal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease
    Volume3
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2012

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