Drugs of abuse testing in meconium

Clin Chim Acta. 2006 Apr;366(1-2):101-11. doi: 10.1016/j.cca.2005.10.028. Epub 2006 Jan 17.


Prenatal substance abuse is an ongoing concern with significant impact on neonatal health and development across socioeconomic lines. Meconium, passed by neonates during their first post-natal bowel movements, is a matrix unique to the developing fetus and contains a long history of prenatal metabolism. Over the last two decades, the use of meconium as a matrix for assessing prenatal exposure to drugs of abuse has yielded methods exhibiting higher sensitivity, easier collection, and a larger window of detection than traditional matrices. Recently, a method has been developed for the analysis of fatty acid ethyl esters in meconium as a biomarker of fetal alcohol exposure, potentially facilitating the future diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder in situations where gestational alcohol consumption history is unknown. Screening for prenatal exposure to illicit and abused licit drugs in meconium is possible by use of a variety of immunoassay methods with conformational analysis usually occurring by GCMS or LCMS. In spite of increased sample preparation time relative to blood and urine, the long metabolic history, coupled with the ease and wide window of collection of meconium make it the ideal matrix for determining fetal drug exposure.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoassay / methods
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange
  • Meconium / chemistry*
  • Pregnancy
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Substance Abuse Detection / methods
  • Substance-Related Disorders / diagnosis*