This study examined acute findings and long-term outcome trajectories between birth and adolescence in children with prenatal opiate exposure.
Ninety children (45 opiate-exposed, 45 non-exposed) completed assessments between 1 month and 15 years of age. Outcome variables (medical, anthropomorphic, developmental, and behavioral) were analyzed at individual time points and using longitudinal statistical modeling.
Opiate-exposed infants displayed transient neurologic findings, but no substantial signs or symptoms long term. There were no group differences in growth, cognitive functioning, or behavior at individual time periods; however, the trajectories of outcomes using longitudinal analyses adjusting for variables known to impact outcome demonstrated increased deficits among opiate-exposed children over time with regards to weight, head circumference, cognitive functioning, and behavior.
Findings support concerns that maternal opiate use during pregnancy may negatively impact a child’s developmental trajectory, which in turn may impose concerns to society (e.g., increased need for social, medical, and/or educational services).