Magnetocardiographic identification of prolonged fetal corrected QT interval in women receiving treatment for opioid use disorder

J Obstet Gynaecol Res. 2019 Oct;45(10):1989-1996. doi: 10.1111/jog.14055. Epub 2019 Jul 11.


Aim: Pregnant women undergoing treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD) may be exposed to multiple QT prolonging agents. We used magnetocardiography to measure fetal QT intervals in mothers with OUD on buprenorphine therapy.

Methods: Fetal and maternal magnetocardiography was performed in pregnant women receiving buprenorphine-assisted treatment (Disorder group); these were matched by gestational age to pregnant women who were opiate naïve (Reference group). Corrected QT intervals were determined using Bazett's formula and compared between groups.

Results: A total of eight women in the Disorder group matched to eight in the Reference group. Seven of the mothers (88%) in the Disorder group were smokers; there were no smokers in the Reference group. The average fetal corrected QT was significantly longer (P = 0.022) in the Disorder group than that in the Reference group (505 milliseconds [ms] ± 68.6 [standard deviation] vs 383 ms ± 70.3 [standard deviation]).

Conclusion: Novel data from this small sample demonstrate prolongation of fetal corrected QT in women with OUD participating in buprenorphine assisted therapy. Additional investigation from a larger sample is needed to clarify if fetal buprenorphine and/or tobacco exposure is associated with changes in fetal QT which would warrant further prenatal and postnatal testing.

Keywords: corrected QT interval; fetal heart; magnetocardiography; opioid; smoking.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Buprenorphine / adverse effects*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Fetal Heart / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Magnetocardiography
  • Narcotic Antagonists / adverse effects*
  • Opiate Substitution Treatment / adverse effects*
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / drug therapy
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / drug therapy
  • Young Adult


  • Narcotic Antagonists
  • Buprenorphine