Effect of chronic maternal methadone exposure on perinatal development

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42 Scopus citations


The effect of perinatal exposure to methadone on body growth and brain development was studied in rat. Female Sprague-Dawley albino rats received daily intraperitoneal injections of 5 mg/kg dl-methadone-HCl during gestation and lactation. Body weights were reduced in drug-treated mothers during gestation and the first 2 weeks of lactation. No differences in gestation time, litter size, or infant mortality were recorded, however methadone-treated offspring grew more slowly than controls. Weight deficits persisted in rats observed 5½ weeks after cessation of drug exposure (group 1) and in animals continuing to receive daily intraperitoneal injections of 5 mg/kg (group 2). From birth to day 21, brain weight and length, cerebral width and cerebellar weight and width were generally smaller in methadone-exposed rats. Brain measurements of group 1 and group 2 animals on day 60 revealed a reduction in brain and cerebellar weights and cerebral and cerebellar widths from control values. Brain:body weight and cerebellum:brain weight ratios were similar to controls. Analysis of these results indicates that maternal methadone treatment retards the growth of young rats and affects brain development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271-282
Number of pages12
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - Jan 1 1977

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental Biology


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