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Vol. 4, Suppl. 1, 1998
Issue release date: October 1998
Eur Addict Res 1998;4(suppl 1):32–36

Buprenorphine Maintenance in Pregnant Opiate Addicts

Fischer G. · Etzersdorfer P. · Eder H. · Jagsch R. · Langer M. · Weninger M.
a Department of General Psychiatry, b Department of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, c Department of Pediatrics, University Hospital of Psychiatry, Vienna, Austria

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Opioid maintenance agents such as methadone and slow-release morphine have provided beneficial effects in pregnant opioid-dependent women in both themselves and their child. However, one of the major drawbacks involved with these agents is that they cause an increase in the severity of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) when compared to mothers using heroin. Consequently, a trial was performed to investigate the effects of buprenorphine use during pregnancy. A total of nine pregnant opioid-dependent women were transferred from either a mean daily dose of 39.7 mg methadone or 400 mg slow-release morphine to a mean daily dose of 8.1 mg buprenorphine. The buprenorphine-maintained patients were integrated into an already established outpatient maintenance treatment programme covering all aspects of prenatal and perinatal care. Results demonstrated that buprenorphine administration in opioid-dependent pregnant patients is efficacious and well tolerated. Babies born to buprenorphine-maintained patients had birthweight and Apgar scores within the normal range (2,500–4,500 g and 9–10, respectively) and no evidence of opioid-related NAS was observed. The results from this preliminary study indicate the potential for buprenorphine maintenance therapy in pregnant addicts, although further research is required to confirm this hypothesis.

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