Prevention of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome in an Outpatient Prenatal Buprenorphine Tapering Program

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Objectives Many addicted pregnant patients receiving buprenorphine medication-assisted therapy (MAT) wish to discontinue this medication while pregnant. This study was undertaken to determine whether outpatient detoxification from buprenorphine during pregnancy is safe and effective when confirmed with postdetoxification urine drug screens (UDSs). Methods This case series reports the maternal and neonatal outcomes for 21 patients who ended MAT with buprenorphine while pregnant. A retrospective chart review of both maternal and newborn electronic medical records was performed to obtain results. Newborn neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) diagnosis, need for morphine, maternal safety and fetal/newborn complications were assessed. Maternal sobriety was documented with UDSs at the time of admission for delivery. Umbilical cord blood also was assessed for substances of abuse. An additional 182 pregnant women who lowered their buprenorphine doses but did not decide to end MAT were assessed via routine quality assurance methods. Results None of the women who stopped buprenorphine during their pregnancy as confirmed by UDSs and umbilical cord sampling delivered neonates who had NAS. Eleven patients ended MAT with medical assistance and 10 ended MAT without medical assistance. No overdoses were reported for the 182 additional pregnant patients who indicated an intention to taper buprenorphine dosage while pregnant but who did not decide to end MAT; the neonatal benefits were obtained without any identified maternal harm. Conclusions The neonates of pregnant women enrolled in an outpatient buprenorphine MAT tapering program who are able to completely stop taking buprenorphine (as documented by negative urinary drug screen) are very unlikely to have NAS. Further research will be important.