Cognitive Outcomes of Young Children After Prenatal Exposure
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The number of children with prenatal opioid exposure to medication for addiction treatment (MAT) with methadone and buprenorphine for maternal opioid use disorder is increasing, but the associations of this exposure with cognitive outcomes are not well understood.

The objective of the study was to examine the strength and consistency of findings in the medical literature regarding the association of prenatal exposure to MAT with early childhood cognitive development, particularly when accounting for variables outside MAT exposure.

Inclusion criteria were cohort studies, studies including children aged 1 to 60 months with at least 2 months of prenatal MAT exposure, studies using standardized direct-observation testing scales, and studies reporting means and SDs.

A total of 16 unique cohorts, described in 27 articles and including 1086 children, were included in the quantitative synthesis. On meta-analysis, MAT exposure was associated with lower cognitive development scores. Multiple subanalyses on demographic characteristics were conducted. In the subanalysis of studies with comparable prenatal exposure to tobacco smoke, the association of MAT exposure with cognitive scores was no longer statistically significant and became homogeneous.

Conclusively, In this study, predefined subanalyses demonstrated how poor recruitment, particularly imbalances in maternal tobacco use, could contribute to a negative overall association of cognitive development test scores with prenatal MAT exposure. Promoting tobacco cessation for pregnant women with opioid use disorder should be prioritized in this high-risk population.