Developmental Consequences of Prenatal Exposure
to Methadone: Chicago, 1978-1984
This longitudinal study assessed the effects of prenatal methadone exposure on a cohort of children who were followed from birth to two years of age. The purpose of the study was to examine teratogenic effects of methadone as well as to determine how other non-teratogenic risk factors might be related to the behavior of drug-exposed children. Thirty six pregnant opioid-using women between the ages of 18 and 35 were recruited at prenatal clinics at Chicago Lying-In Hospital between 1978 and 1982. All of the women were involved in low-dose methadone-maintenance programs for the treatment of chronic heroin addiction, and the majority occasionally used other drugs, most commonly alcohol, marijuana, heroin, cocaine, Valium, or Talwin. All of the women were black, came from low-income inner-city neighborhoods, and received good quality prenatal care. Infants' behavior was assessed at one day and at four weeks of age using the Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale with Kansas Supplements (NBAS-K). The children were assessed again at 4, 8, 12, 18 and 24 months of age using the Bayley Scales of Infant Development. Children's heights, weights, and head circumferences were measured at each of the assessments. The study assessed a total of 436 variables across 79 cases.