For a study, researchers assessed the hospital length of stay (LOS) and length of treatment (LOT) for morphine versus methadone treatment of neonatal opioid withdrawal (NOWS). From October 2016 to September 2018, a single-site, open-label, randomized controlled pilot research was undertaken. Infants were considered eligible if their prominent in utero exposure to drugs was heroin, oral opioids, or methadone, and they were born at least 34 weeks after conception. Infants with significant medical conditions and those who had their first exposure to buprenorphine in utero were excluded. About 61 infants were enrolled; 31 were randomly assigned to receive morphine treatment, and 30 were treated with methadone. In total, 46% of newborns needed treatment for NOWS. LOS and LOT for infants receiving morphine were 17.9 days and 14.7 days, respectively, whereas methadone-treated infants experienced LOS and LOT of 16.1 days and 12.8 days, respectively (P=0.5 and P=0.54). Compared to infants treated with methadone, those treated with morphine received lower total morphine equivalents (9.7 vs. 33, P<0.01). Compared to no infants in the morphine group, 3 treated newborns in the methadone group needed to be transferred to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. In this pilot trial, there were no appreciable changes in LOS or LOT between infants treated with morphine versus methadone. In terms of morphine equivalents, methadone-treated newborns received up to 3 times as much opioid as morphine-treated infants and required more NICU transfers due to oversedation.

Source: bmcpediatr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12887-022-03401-3