Spectrum of gestational exposure to illicit drugs and other xenobiotic agents in newborn infants by meconium analysis

J Pediatr. 1998 Oct;133(4):513-5. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3476(98)70059-9.


Objective: To detect the spectrum of gestational exposure to illicit drugs and other xenobiotic agents in neonates by meconium analysis.

Method: Meconium was collected from 98 neonates and analyzed for illicit drugs and other xenobiotic agents by high-performance liquid chromatography and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry.

Results: Eighty-one (82.7%) infants tested positive for xenobiotic agents, and each infant had from 1 to 9 drugs present. These included local anesthetics (30%) such as lidocaine and mepivacaine; food additives (25%) such as ionol (butylated hydroxytoluene); illicit drugs (11%), especially cocaine and morphine; analgesics (10%) such as meperidine; and fewer (< 10%) other drugs such as antihistamines, antidepressants, adrenergics, anticonvulsants, cough medications, analeptics, hypnosedatives, and cardiotonics.

Conclusion: We demonstrated substantial exposure of neonates to xenobiotic agents, ranging from exposure to food additives, prescribed or over-the-counter medications, and drugs of abuse.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs / adverse effects*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Meconium / chemistry*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Xenobiotics / analysis*


  • Illicit Drugs
  • Xenobiotics