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Drug Test Anal. 2013 Jul;5(7):529-33. doi: 10.1002/dta.1459. Epub 2013 Feb 6.

Meconium drug testing reveals maternal misuse of medicinal opioids among addicted mothers.

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  • 1Hjelt Institute, Department of Forensic Medicine, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.


Meconium drug testing is a non-invasive method to detect prenatal drug exposure, which can cause severe problems for the infant, indicating the need for follow-up measures to ensure the welfare of the child. Meconium samples for drug testing were collected from 143 infants as part of routine clinical work among addicted mothers. The drug testing findings were combined with medical records including clinical background and follow-up data. The substances screened for included medicinal opioids, 6-monoacetylmorphine (a metabolite of heroin), amphetamines and tetrahydrocannabinolic acid. At least one of the 13 target drugs was detected in 57 (40%) meconium samples. In 21 cases, the findings were unexpected on the basis of clinical data or denied by the mother. Medicinal opioids, especially the opioid substitution treatment drugs buprenorphine and methadone, comprised the majority of the findings of both admitted and unexpected drug misuse. Meconium drug testing methods should target not just traditional illicit drugs but also prescription drugs with misuse potential.

Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


LC-MS/MS; child welfare; drug testing; meconium

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