Importance: Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) caused by in utero opioid exposure is a growing problem; genetic factors influencing the incidence and severity have not been previously examined. Single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the μ-opioid receptor (OPRM1), multidrug resistance (ABCB1), and catechol-o-methyltransferase (COMT) genes are associated with risk for opioid addiction in adults.
Objective: To determine whether SNPs in the OPRM1, ABCB1, and COMT genes are associated with length of hospital stay and the need for treatment of NAS.
Design, setting, and participants: Prospective multicenter cohort study conducted at 5 tertiary care centers and community hospitals in Massachusetts and Maine between July 2011 and July 2012. DNA samples were genotyped for SNPs, and then NAS outcomes were correlated with genotype. Eighty-six of 140 eligible mother-infant dyads were enrolled. Infants were eligible if they were 36 weeks' gestational age or older and exposed to methadone or buprenorphine in utero .
Main outcomes and measures: Primary outcome measure was length of hospital stay, with between-group differences expressed as β and calculated with linear regression models. Secondary outcome measures included need for any medical treatment for NAS and treatment with 2 or more medications.
Results: Infants with the OPRM1 118A>G AG/GG genotype had shortened length of stay (β = -8.5 days; 95% CI, -14.9 to -2.1 days; P = .009) and were less likely to receive any treatment than AA infants (48% vs 72%; adjusted odds ratio, 0.76; 95% CI, 0.63-0.96; P = .006). The COMT 158A>G AG/GG genotype was associated with shortened length of stay (β = -10.8 days; 95% CI, -18.2 to -3.4 days; P = .005) and less treatment with 2 or more medications (18% vs 56%; adjusted odds ratio, 0.68; 95% CI, 0.55-0.86; P = .001) than the AA genotype. Associations with the ABCB1 SNPs were not significant.
Conclusions and relevance: Among infants with NAS, variants in the OPRM1 and COMT genes were associated with a shorter length of hospital stay and less need for treatment. These preliminary findings may provide insight into the mechanisms underlying NAS.