Study IDs Risks to Offspring Associated With Prenatal Opioid Exposure

Prenatal opioid exposure linked to increased risk for infection, eczema and dermatitis, and asthma in offspring

By Elana Gotkine (HealthDay News) | January 19, 2024

FRIDAY, Jan. 19, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- Prenatal opioid exposure (POE) is associated with an increased risk for infection, eczema and dermatitis, and asthma in offspring, but it is not linked to allergies or anaphylaxis, according to a study published online Jan. 17 in JAMA Network Open.

Erin Kelty, Ph.D., from the University of Western Australia in Crawley, and colleagues compared the risk for hospitalization and emergency department presentation for immune-related conditions in children with and without POE using linked administrative health records for all 401,462 children born between Jan. 1, 2003, and Dec. 31, 2018 (1,656 with POE).

The researchers found that compared with nonexposed neonates, those with POE were more likely to be born preterm, have low birth weight for gestational age, and be coexposed to cigarette smoke. The risks for perinatal infection (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 1.62) as well as eczema and dermatitis (aOR, 11.91) were increased in association with POE versus nonexposure. Both conditions were also increased in association with neonatal abstinence syndrome (aORs, 2.91 and 31.11, respectively). An increased risk for childhood asthma was also seen in association with POE (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.44) but allergies and anaphylaxis were not. For children with POE from opioids used to treat opioid use disorder but not pain, the risk for childhood eczema and dermatitis was increased. In contrast, POE from opioids used for pain but not to treat opioid use disorder was associated with increased infection risk.

"The findings suggest that POE may modify the developing immune system, changing how the immune system responds to subsequent conditions," the authors write.

Two authors disclosed ties to Mundipharma; one author has a related patent pending.

Abstract/Full Text

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