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Gabapentin Detection in Umbilical Cord

Gabapentin Testing Available in Umbilical Cord Tissue

Des Plaines, IL., April 1, 2020—Over the last few decades, United States Drug Testing Laboratories, Inc. (USDTL), has been quietly making a huge impact on the lives of some of the most vulnerable Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) patients, newborns exposed to substances of abuse during gestation. Today USDTL announced that they are adding gabapentin detection to their long list of drugs that are detected in umbilical cord tissue specimens.

Gabapentin, known by brand names such as Gabarone®, Gralise®, and Neurontin®, is an anti-epileptic drug that has been used for years to help control partial seizures and nerve pain. It has more recently been prescribed for other off-label use for several other conditions, including refractory chronic cough, diabetic neuropathy, hot flashes, postoperative pain, restless legs syndrome, and social anxiety disorder.1

Recently, gabapentin has become a popular drug used by opioid abusers to increase the power of the opioid high.2,3,4 Unfortunately, this correlates to an increase of abuse during pregnancy which can cause newborns to go into dangerous withdrawal known as Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). Babies withdrawing from gabapentin have been noted to exhibit unusual behavioral patterns including tongue thrusting, wandering eye movements, back arching, and continuous extremity movement, even while being held. 1

“Unfortunately, testing for licit drugs like gabapentin as part of a detection or exposure protocol is becoming the new normal. We are grateful to be able to develop and offer these tests to answer the call of so many hospital partners that are trying to get on top of this epidemic.” said Joseph Jones, Chief Operating Officer at USDTL.

Umbilical Cord Tissue testing is considered advanced long-term drug testing specimens because both start capturing substances in the newborn’s system up to approximately 20-weeks before birth. For comparison, newborn urine drug testing has a typical lookback window up to approximately 2-3 days before birth. This longer window of detection from advanced specimens makes it possible to get a better picture of what is going on with the newborn.

“Adapting our tactics –from a population health standpoint– and being able to test for more prevalently abused drugs in the industry is crucial. The landscape continues to change and as a community we have to be prepared to keep up with the trends.” Douglas Lewis, President and Founder of USDTL.


USDTL, is a leader in newborn toxicology, alcohol biomarkers, and substances of abuse testing. They specialize in niche areas of forensic drug and alcohol testing by offering the most comprehensive testing panels on the market. They have decades of cutting-edge innovations that have been adopted and serve the population health needs of hospitals, legal organizations, and more.



  1. Loudin S., Murray S., Prunty L., Davies T., Evans J., Werthammer J. An Atypical Withdrawal Syndrome in Neonates Prenatally Exposed to Gabapentin and Opioids, Journal of Pediatrics, 2017; 181: 286-288
  2. 2.Baird, C.R., Fox, P., and Colvin, L.A. Gabapentin abuse in order to potentiate the effect of methadone: a survey among substance misusers. Eur Addict Res. 2014; 20: 115–118
  3. 3. Bastiaens, L., Galus, J., and Mazur, C. Abuse of gabapentin is associated with opioid addiction. Psychiatr Q. 2016
  4. 4. Mersfelder, T.L. and Nichols, W.H. Gabapentin: abuse, dependence, and withdrawal. Ann Pharmacother. 2016; 50: 229–233

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