Methadone and buprenorphine for opioid dependence during pregnancy: a retrospective cohort study

J Addict Med. 2015 Mar-Apr;9(2):81-6. doi: 10.1097/ADM.0000000000000092.


Objectives: To compare maternal characteristics, prenatal care, and newborn outcomes in a cohort of opioid-dependent pregnant women treated with methadone versus buprenorphine.

Methods: In a retrospective cohort study, 609 pregnant, opioid-dependent women were treated with methadone (n = 248) or buprenorphine (n = 361) between 2000 and 2012 at a single institution.

Results: Mothers treated with buprenorphine were more likely to start medication before or earlier in pregnancy, had longer gestation, and gave birth to larger infants. Newborns of buprenorphine- versus methadone-maintained mothers required treatment for neonatal abstinence significantly less often and for a shorter duration.

Conclusions: These data suggest pregnancy outcomes with buprenorphine to treat opioid dependence during pregnancy in clinical practice are as good and often better than outcomes with methadone. These results are consistent with efficacy data from randomized clinical trials and further support the use of buprenorphine for the treatment of opioid dependence during pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use
  • Buprenorphine / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Methadone / therapeutic use*
  • Opiate Substitution Treatment*
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Young Adult


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Buprenorphine
  • Methadone