family practice/emergency medicine
Dr. Nancy Reid
Objective: To determine what are the long term effects on child development from maternal opioid maintenance therapy in children born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). To bring awareness of these long term effects of medicated opioid use disorder (MOUD) on infant and child brain development. Learning how to treat these children now will help improve their futures and help them reach their potentials into adulthood. With the growing national trends in battling opioid addiction, this specific patient demographic is going to grow and healthcare providers could miss opportunities to make interventions.
Results: Most of the studies available now for review are retrospective and observational in design. There are very little recent literature and minimal data on the long term effects and outcomes of children with prenatal opioid exposure (POE), and even less on synthetic MOUD.
Conclusion: Infants born with NAS, and POE are at high risk for poor school performance, unemployment, and criminal activity because they never reach the neurocognitive levels of their peers. MOUD, by definition, is POE thus also associated with poor cognitive development, problems with motor skills, and regulatory functions-anxiety, anger, aggression. MOUD is now the standard of care for maternal opioid use disorder (OUD), but the long term developmental outcomes have not been adequately researched. Understanding and mitigating the neurocognitive development consequences of MOUD will require not only more comprehensive longitudinal but intergenerational research.
Cox JL. Long Term Effects of Medication for Opioid Use Disorder in Children. Lynchburg Journal of Medical Science. 2020; 2(3).
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