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Neonatal outcome following buprenorphine maintenance for opiate dependency

  • John Fagan (a1) and Eamon Keenan (a2)


Methadone substitution improves maternal and neonatal outcomes. However methadone induced neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) is common. Buprenorphine-exposed neonates may be at a lower risk of NAS. Currently in the Republic of Ireland, buprenorphine does not have a special licence for use in pregnancy. We describe here the history and neonatal outcomes of the first Irish woman maintained on buprenorphine during two pregnancies.

Supervised urinanalysis on this mother between and throughout both pregnancies did not reveal any illicit drug use. She delivered two post-term babies of normal birth weight and length. The second infant required treatment for NAS for 21 days with morphine sulphate. Although the use of buprenorphine in pregnancy does not remove the possibility of NAS, neonatal outcomes of buprenorphine-maintained women compares favourably to methadone. As the use of buprenorphine becomes more established in Ireland, the management of buprenorphine-exposed neonates will become more common.


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