Alternative biological materials to detect prenatal exposure to drugs of abuse in the third trimester of pregnancy

J. García-Serra, J. Ramis, S. Simó, X. Joya, S. Pichini, O. Vall, O. García-Algar

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11 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Detection of prenatal drug abuse exposure is essential to ensure an appropriate monitoring of affected children. A maternal questionnaire is not an efficient screening tool. The usefulness of maternal hair and meconium as biological materials to assess this exposure has been described in last few years. The aim of this study was to compare both these alternative biological materials for prenatal drug exposure detection in the third trimester of pregnancy, in order to assess its use as a screening tool. Patients and methods: Between January and March 2010, samples of maternal hair and meconium from 107 mother-infant dyads were collected in Can Misses Hospital, Ibiza. The presence of opiates, cocaine, cannabis, and amphetamines, was determined in both materials, using standard chromatographic techniques. Results: Maternal hair analysis showed a 15.9% positivity for drugs of abuse (17 cases): 11 cannabis, 7 cocaine, 1 cannabis and ecstasy, and 1 cannabis and cocaine. Only one mother reported cannabis consumption and another one, cocaine. Of the 7 cocaine positive cases in hair, 6 were confirmed in meconium analysis, while of 11 cannabis positive cases, only 3 were confirmed in meconium. Two different consumer profiles were defined: cocaine consumers and cannabis consumers (with only 2 cases of multiple drug use). The highest level of cocaine ever published was detected (1.582 ng/g) in one case. Discussion: This study reveals a high prevalence of drug abuse in this cohort during pregnancy. Improved screening methods may optimize prevention and monitoring of exposed infants. Maternal hair seems to be more sensitive than meconium to detect prenatal exposure to cannabis during the third trimester, so it might become a good screening tool. © 2011 Asociación Española de Pediatría. Published by Elsevier España, S.L. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-328
JournalAnales de Pediatria
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2012


  • Biological matrix
  • Drugs of abuse
  • Hair
  • Meconium
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal exposure
  • Third trimester


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