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J Forensic Sci. 2014 Sep;59(5):1436-40. doi: 10.1111/1556-4029.12464. Epub 2014 Mar 3.

Use of hair testing to determine methadone exposure in pediatric deaths.

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  • 1Forensic Institute, School of Medicine, CHRU of Lille, rue André Verhaeghe, 59037, Lille, France; Laboratory of Forensic Toxicology, Center of Biology and Pathology, CHRU of Lille, 59037, Lille, France.


A case of death attributed to methadone acute poisoning in an infant aged 11 months is reported. A sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) was suspected, whereas a traumatic cause of death was excluded regarding autopsy findings. Specimens were submitted to a large toxicological analysis, which included ethanol measurement by HS-GC-FID, a targeted screening for drugs of abuse and various prescription drug classes followed by quantification using UPLC-MS/MS methods. Methadone and its metabolite (EDDP) were detected in all the tested fluids, as well as in hair, with a blood concentration of methadone considered as lethal for children (73 ng/mL). The cause of death was determined to be acute "methadone poisoning", and the manner of death was "accidental". A discussion of the case circumstances, the difficulties with the interpretation of toxicological findings in children (blood concentration and hair testing), and the origin of exposure are discussed.

© 2014 American Academy of Forensic Sciences.


2-ethylidine-1; 3-diphenylpyrrolidine (EDDP); 5dimethyl-3; acute methadone toxicity; forensic science; hair testing; pediatric

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