Naloxone for opioid-exposed newborn infants

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BACKGROUND: Naloxone, a specific opioid antagonist, is available for the treatment of newborn infants with cardiorespiratory or neurological depression that may be due to intrauterine exposure to opioid. It is unclear whether newborn infants may benefit from this therapy and whether naloxone has any harmful effects.

OBJECTIVES: To determine the effect of naloxone on the need for and duration of neonatal unit stay in infants of mothers who received opioid analgesia prior to delivery or of mothers who have used a prescribed or non-prescribed opioid during pregnancy.

SEARCH METHODS: We searched the following databases in February 2018: the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (the Cochrane Library 2018, Issue 1), MEDLINE (OvidSP), MEDLINE In process & Other Non-Indexed Citations (OvidSP), Embase (OvidSP), CINAHL (EBSCO), Maternity and Infant Care (OvidSP), and PubMed. We searched for ongoing and completed trials in the WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform and the EU Clinical Trials Register. We checked the reference lists of relevant articles to identify further potentially relevant studies.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomised controlled trials comparing the administration of naloxone versus placebo, or no drug, or another dose of naloxone to newborn infants with suspected or confirmed in utero exposure to opioid.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: We extracted data using the standard methods of Cochrane Neonatal with separate evaluation of trial quality and data extraction by two review authors and synthesis of data using risk ratio, risk difference, and mean difference.

MAIN RESULTS: We included nine trials, with 316 participants in total, that compared the effects of naloxone versus placebo or no drug in newborn infants exposed to maternal opioid analgesia prior to delivery. None of the included trials investigated infants born to mothers who had used a prescribed or non-prescribed opioid during pregnancy. None of these trials specifically recruited infants with cardiorespiratory or neurological depression. The main outcomes reported were measures of respiratory function in the first six hours after birth. There is some evidence that naloxone increases alveolar ventilation. The trials did not assess the effect on the primary outcomes of this review (admission to a neonatal unit and failure to establish breastfeeding).

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: The existing evidence from randomised controlled trials is insufficient to determine whether naloxone confers any important benefits to newborn infants with cardiorespiratory or neurological depression that may be due to intrauterine exposure to opioid. Given concerns about the safety of naloxone in this context, it may be appropriate to limit its use to randomised controlled trials that aim to resolve these uncertainties.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberCD003483
Pages (from-to)CD003483
Number of pages44
JournalCochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
Publication statusPublished - 12 Oct 2018

Bibliographical note

© 2018 The Cochrane Collaboration. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details

Funding Information:
We examined the references in studies identified as potentially relevant for other eligible studies. We also searched the abstracts from the annual meetings of the Pediatric Academic Societies (1993 to 2018), the European Society for Pediatric Research (1995 to 2017), the UK Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (2000 to 2018) and the Perinatal Society of Australia and New Zealand (2000 to 2017). We considered trials reported only as abstracts to be eligible if sufficient information was available from the report, or from contact with the authors, to fulfil the inclusion criteria.

Funding Information:
Study was supported by a grant from Winthrop Laboratories (pharmaceutical company that manufactured the intervention)

Funding Information:
• National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), UK. This report is independent research funded by a UK NIHR Cochrane Programme Grant (16/114/03). The views expressed in this publication are those of the review authors and are not necessarily those of the National Health Service, the NIHR, or the UK Department of Health. • Vermont Oxford Network, USA. Cochrane Neonatal Reviews are produced with support from Vermont Oxford Network, a worldwide collaboration of health professionals dedicated to providing evidence-based care of the highest quality for newborn infants and their families.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Cochrane Collaboration.

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