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Early life stress and environmental influences on the neurodevelopment of children with prenatal opioid exposure.

Authors
  • Conradt, Elisabeth1
  • Crowell, Sheila E1
  • Lester, Barry M2, 3, 4
  • 1 The University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA.
  • 2 The Brown Center for the Study of Children at Risk, Providence, RI, USA.
  • 3 Department of Psychiatry, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, RI, USA.
  • 4 Department of Pediatrics, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, RI, USA.
Type
Published Article
Journal
Neurobiology of stress
Publication Date
Nov 01, 2018
Volume
9
Pages
48–54
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.ynstr.2018.08.005
PMID: 30151420
Source
Medline
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

Prenatal opioid exposure has reached epidemic proportions. In the last 10 years, there has been a 242% increase in the number of babies born with the drug withdrawal syndrome known as Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome (NOWS). Developmental outcome studies of infants with prenatal opioid exposure are limited by methodological issues including small sample sizes and lack of control for confounding variables such as exposure to poverty and maternal psychopathology. Thus, there is a critical gap in the literature that limits our ability to predict short-term effects of opioid exposure. Here we review direct neurotoxic, indirect, and stress-related pathophysiologies of prenatal opioid exposure. We describe the literature on short and long-term neurodevelopmental outcomes of children with prenatal opioid exposure, highlighting sex differences and the role of early life stress. We conclude by prioritizing avenues for future research for this group of underserved women and their children at risk for neurodevelopmental delays.

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