High-dose methadone maintenance in pregnancy: Maternal and neonatal outcomes

John J. McCarthy, Martin H Leamon, Michael S. Parr, Barbara Anania

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

124 Scopus citations


Objective: This study assesses the effect of higher doses of methadone during pregnancy on maternal and fetal outcomes. Study design: We retrospectively reviewed clinical data for 81 mothers who received methadone and their 81 offspring. The cohort was divided into high-dose (≥100 mg) and low-dose (<100 mg) groups. Results: There were no differences in the rate of medication treatment for neonatal abstinence symptoms or days of infant hospitalization between the high-dose (mean, 132 mg) and low-dose (mean, 62 mg) groups. Despite longer histories of opiate abuse, the high-dose group had less illicit drug use at delivery. The whole cohort, which received an average of 101 mg/d, had an 81% rate of negative toxicology screens at delivery. Conclusion: High doses of methadone were not associated with increased risks of neonatal abstinence symptoms but had a positive effect on maternal drug abuse. Arbitrarily limiting methadone dose as a way of minimizing the risks of neonatal abstinence symptoms may be unwarranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)606-610
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2005


  • Drug abuse
  • Methadone
  • Neonatal abstinence syndrome
  • Pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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