Adolescent outcomes of prenatal methadone exposure

Support this project
Status: In-progress
Year: 2019
Funded: $96,194
Grant Type: Major Project Grant

The use of prescription and illicit opioids (e.g. morphine, methadone, heroin) has been increasing in New Zealand and internationally, and opioid addiction is now a global health problem. Opioid use among pregnant women parallels that in the wider population.

To reduce many of the harms associated with untreated opioid dependence, such as HIV, miscarriage and preterm birth, pregnant opioid-dependent women are encouraged to enrol in a treatment programme such as methadone maintenance. Despite the harm reduction of methadone compared with illicit opioids, infants and young children born to mothers treated with methadone are at risk for a number of health and developmental problems that include opioid withdrawal at birth, cognitive and motor skill delays, and emotional and behavioural problems. To date, no one has examined the health and development of youth whose mothers were treated with methadone during pregnancy.

This world-first study assesses the outcomes of 16-year-old youth who were prenatally exposed to methadone and followed from birth, to better understand the nature and neurodevelopmental cause of problems they face growing up.

Researcher // Dr Samantha Lee – University of Canterbury

Samantha Lee is currently a PHD student at the University of Canterbury.


Stay in touch with CMRF

// Get all the latest news and insights to your inbox