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USDTL Assisted Research

Identification of Prenatal Amphetamines Exposure by Maternal Interview and Meconium Toxicology in the Infant Development, Environment and Lifestyle (IDEAL) Study

Teresa R Gray Linda L LaGasseLynne M SmithChris DeraufPenny GrantRizwan ShahAmelia M ArriaSheri A Della GrottaArthur StraussWilliam F HaningBarry M LesterMarilyn A Huestis

First Published: 31 Devember 2009 DIO: 10.1097/FTD.0b013e3181bb438e

Chemistry and Drug Metabolism, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health, Baltimore, MD, USA.


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The Infant Development Environment and Lifestyle (IDEAL) study is investigating the effects of prenatal methamphetamine (MAMP) exposure on infant and child development; potential concurrent exposure to cannabis and tobacco also are evaluated. Maternal self-reported drug use and/or meconium toxicology results defined drug exposure status. It is unclear how the frequency, duration, and magnitude of maternal MAMP exposure affect qualitative and quantitative meconium results.

Materials and Methods

Interviews regarding maternal drug use were collected shortly after birth; meconium specimens were screened for amphetamines, cannabis and cotinine by immunoassay and confirmed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GCMS).


The majority of MAMP- and cannabis-exposed infants were identified by maternal interview alone. Meconium tests were more likely to be positive if the mother reported MAMP and cannabis use, particularly in the third trimester. Less than half of immunoassay-positive amphetamines (31.0%) and cannabis (17.9%) meconium results were confirmed by GCMS. Tobacco exposure was equally detected by immunoassay cotinine screen and maternal report. Meconium concentrations did not correlate with maternal self-report status or trimester of use, frequency or route of MAMP use.


Maternal self-report was more sensitive than meconium testing for identifying MAMP and cannabis-exposed neonates; however, the timing of drug exposure may influence meconium toxicology results. Most women ceased MAMP and cannabis use before the third trimester. In the first trimester, meconium has not yet formed and based on our recent results for opiates and cocaine, drug use in the second trimester appears to be poorly reflected in meconium.


Low confirmation rates in meconium reinforce the need for confirmatory testing following positive screening results and additional research to identify alternative biomarkers.

Keywords: methamphetamine, pregnancy, meconium, in utero, cannabis, tobacco, prenatal drug exposure, amphetamines

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