Twenty-nine infants exposed in utero to methadone and 37 comparison infants were examined on the Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale at early and late neonatal ages. All infants were full-term at birth, over 2500 g, and not yet circumcised at the early assessment. None of the methadone-exposed infants were breast-fed or were being treated pharmacologically for withdrawal. During the first week of life, methadone-exposed neonates differed from comparison ones in motoric behavior. Relative to comparison-group infants, they were jerkier and more tremulous, tense, active, and better able to put hand in mouth. By the end of the first month these differences diminished, although there was still a tendency for the methadone-exposed infants to have elevated body tonus. Neither perinatal complications, birth weight, nor sex of infant could explain the early neonatal differences between the methadone and comparison groups. Past the early stage of acute withdrawal, neonates exposed prenatally to methadone behave not unlike their nonexposed peers. © 1985.
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