Prenatal opioid exposure tied to impaired cognitive, motor development

  • JAMA Netw Open

  • von Kelli Whitlock Burton
  • Clinical Essentials
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Takeaway

  • Prenatal opioid exposure (POE) was associated with lower cognitive and motor development scores among children age 6 months compared with unexposed children, and the cognitive effect persisted until age 6 years.

Why this matters

  • At least 1 in 5 pregnant women in high-income countries uses opioids during pregnancy, increasing the risk of perinatal problems such as neonatal abstinence syndrome, which affects 75%-90% of all infants with POE.

Study design

  • Meta-analysis of 26 studies including 1455 children with POE and 2982 unexposed children (age, ≤18 years) identified after a search on PubMed and Embase until 2018.
  • Funding: None disclosed.

Key results

  • Cognitive scores were significantly lower in children with POE vs unexposed children:
    • Age 6-24 months (difference, −0.52; P<.001 i>2=71%).
    • Age 3-6 years (difference, −0.38; P<.02 i>2=86%).
  • Motor outcomes: children aged ≤6 years reported significantly lower motor development (difference, −0.49; P<.001 i>2=80%).
  • No significant difference was observed in cognitive scores in children aged 7-18 years (difference, −0.44; P=.23).

Limitations

  • Significant heterogeneity across studies.

Coauthored with Antara Ghosh, PhD