Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title



Background: Maternal opioid exposure during pregnancy has various effects on neonatal health. Buprenorphine/naloxone and methadone are examples of medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) used for the treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD). Research comparing the impacts of these MOUD modalities on neonatal outcomes when used to treat pregnant people with OUD remains limited. We evaluated the differences in outcomes between neonates with in-utero exposure to buprenorphine/naloxone versus methadone.

Methodology: We performed a retrospective cohort chart review between October 15, 2008, and October 15, 2019, evaluating mother/neonate dyads at two medical centers in Michigan. The charts of female patients, aged 18+, with OUD and buprenorphine/naloxone or methadone treatment, were examined. The charts of the corresponding neonates were also examined. Multiple regression analysis was performed.

Results: In total, 343 mother/infant dyads were included: 99 patients were treated with buprenorphine/naloxone and 232 patients were treated with methadone. The buprenorphine/naloxone group had significant differences in maternal age, hepatitis status, asthma, gestational age in weeks, neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) length of stay (LOS), neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS) peak score, birth head circumference, and birth weight compared to the methadone group at baseline. Adjusted multivariable regression analysis demonstrated neonates with exposure to buprenorphine/naloxone had a NOWS peak score 3.079 points less (95% confidence interval (CI): -4.525, 1.633; p = 0.001) and NICU LOS 8.955 days less (95% CI: -14.399, -3.511; p = 0.001) than neonates exposed to methadone.

Conclusions: Neonates with in-utero exposure to buprenorphine/naloxone had significantly lower NOWS scores and shorter NICU LOS compared to neonates with in-utero exposure to methadone. These findings demonstrate that buprenorphine/naloxone is potentially a more favorable treatment for the reduction in metrics representing adverse neonatal outcomes in pregnant people with OUD than methadone.

PubMed ID






First Page


Last Page




To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.