Methadone levels and neonatal withdrawal


  • G. Mack, MSc, Scientific Officer; D. Thomas, FRACP, Neonatologist; W. Giles, PhD. FRACOG, Staff Specialist; N. Buchanan, PhD, FRACP, Professor of Paediatrics.

Mrs G. Mack, Paediatric Pharmacology Unit, Department of Padiatrics, Westmead Hospital, Westmead, New South Wales 2145, Australia.


The purpose of this study was to observe the effects of methadone exposure in utero, with special reference to maternal and neonatal methadone concentrations and neonatal withdrawal. Two groups of mother-infant pairs were studied. In the first group, serum methadone concentrations were determined in infants at 1, 6 and 24 h after delivery. In the second group, blood was obtained at 24, 48, 72 and 96 h after birth. There was no correlation between neonatal serum levels and the intensity of withdrawal symptoms. There was no relationship between maternal methadone dose at delivery or maternal serum levels and neonatal methadone levels. The results of this study may be complicated by the prenatal exposure of the neonates to other drugs of abuse apart from methadone.