Infants born to narcotic dependent mothers: Physical growth patterns in the first 12 months of life

J. C. Vance*, D. C. Chant, D. I. Tudehope, P. H. Gray, A. J. Hayes

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    28 Citations (Scopus)


    To describe the physical growth patterns of infants born to narcotic dependent mothers (INDM) over a 12 months period and, if possible, to relate the growth to drug taking patterns during pregnancy. Methodology: The growth of a cohort of 43 INDM was measured during the first 12 months of life. Weight and length measurements were compared with percentile charts and converted to Z scores. Questionnaire data about drug taking practices, demographic variables and the neonatal period (including withdrawal scores) were obtained. Results: Twenty-four (55.8%) of INDM had evidence of neonatal drug withdrawal requiring treatment with phenobarbitone. At birth, Z scores for weight and length indicated relative intrauterine growth retardation. By 12 months, there had been some catch up growth, but Z scores for weight and length were still below zero. Persistent weight retardation at 12 months was correlated with methadone dosage during pregnancy, but not the need for phenobarbitone therapy. Conclusions: The growth patterns of INDM in the first 12 months of life indicated that at birth there was evidence of intrauterine growth retardation, but by 12 months the growth was little different from the rest of the community. There appears to be some influence of narcotic agents taken while pregnant on subsequent growth of INDM.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)504-508
    Number of pages5
    JournalJournal of Paediatrics and Child Health
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 1997


    • Drug-dependence
    • Growth
    • Infants
    • Longitudinal
    • Mothers


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