Methadone maintenance program in pregnancy in a Swiss perinatal center (II): neonatal outcome and social resources


*Romaine Arlettaz
Clinic of Neonatology
Zurich University Hospital
Frauenklinikstrasse 10
CH-8091 Zurich


Background:  The aim of the study was to analyze the neonatal impact of a methadone maintenance program in pregnancy, and the social resources of the families involved.

Methods:  Descriptive analysis of neonatal data in live births after 24 weeks of gestation in pregnant women enrolled in a methadone maintenance program. The data of 86 babies were analyzed.

Results:  Median gestational age was 38 0/7 (31–41) weeks; 21 babies (24%) were premature. Median birthweight was 2662 (1340–4050) g; 27% of babies were growth retarded (<3rd centile), and 13% had microcephaly (<3rd centile). Sixty-two percent developed abstinence syndrome requiring pharmacological treatment for a median 47 days. Child Protective Services (CPS) were involved in 56% of cases, and 42% of newborns required placement outside the mother's home.

Conclusions:  Babies born to women on methadone had a fourfold higher incidence of prematurity, a ninefold higher incidence of intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR), and a fourfold higher incidence of microcephaly compared with the normal population. Sixty-two percent required pharmacological treatment for abstinence syndrome and 42% required placement.