Cleft Lip and/or Palate in Infants Prenatally Exposed to Opioids

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Objective: To determine the prevalence and odds ratios for cleft lip and/or palate (CL/P) among infants prenatally exposed to opioids with or without neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS).

Design: This study represents an exploratory, retrospective cohort study design of newborn medical health records from 2011 to 2016.

Setting: Records were drawn from a regional health system located in South Central Appalachia.

Population and study sample: The original population yielded 3 cohorts of infants: (1) infants with opioid exposure (OE) but not requiring pharmacological intervention (OE; N = 168); (2) infants with NOWS requiring pharmacological intervention (N = 294); and (3) infants with no opioid exposure (NOE; N = 16 090), the primary comparison group.

Main outcome: Infants in the NOWS and OE groups showed significantly increased prevalence and odds ratios for CL/P when compared to those in the NOE group.

Results: Prevalence rates per 1000 live births for infants with OE (35.71) and infants with NOWS (6.80) were significantly higher than those for infants with NOE (1.37). Comparison of infants with OE to the NOE group revealed significantly increased odds for CL/P, isolated cleft palate (CP), cleft lip (CL), and cleft lip and palate (CLP) (27.05, 41.81, 19.26, 19.37, respectively; all Ps < .008). The odds ratios for infants with NOWS compared to the NOE group were significantly higher for CL/P and CP (5.00 and 10.98, respectively; Ps < .03) but not for CL and CLP.

Conclusion: The results provide additional evidence that prenatal OE should be considered among the critical environmental risk factors that can contribute to CL/P.