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Broad-spectrum drug screening of meconium by liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry and time-of-flight mass spectrometry

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Abstract

Analysis of the major drugs of abuse in meconium has been established in clinical practice for detecting fetal exposure to illicit drugs, particularly for the ready availability of the sample and ease of collection from diapers, compared with neonatal hair and urine. Very little is known about the occurrence and detection possibilities of therapeutic and licit drugs in meconium. Meconium specimens (n = 209) were collected in delivery hospitals, from infants of mothers who were suspected to be drug abusers. A targeted analysis method by liquid chromatography–triple quadrupole mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) was developed for abused drugs: amphetamine, methamphetamine, 3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine, 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, morphine, codeine, 6-monoacetylmorphine, oxycodone, methadone, tramadol, buprenorphine, and norbuprenorphine. A separate LC-MS/MS method was developed for 11-nor-∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol-9-carboxylic acid. A screening method based on LC coupled to time-of-flight MS was applied to a broad spectrum of drugs. As a result, a total of 77 different compounds were found. The main drug findings in meconium were as follows: local anesthetics 82.5% (n = 172), nicotine or its metabolites 61.5% (n = 129), opioids 48.5% (n = 101), stimulants 21.0% (n = 44), hypnotics and sedatives 19.0% (n = 40), antidepressants 18.0% (n = 38), antipsychotics 5.5% (n = 11), and cannabis 3.0% (n = 5). By revealing drugs and metabolites beyond the ordinary scope, the present procedure helps the pediatrician in cases where maternal denial is strong but the infant seems to suffer from typical drug-withdrawal symptoms. Intrapartum drug administration cannot be differentiated from gestational drug use by meconium analysis, which affects the interpretation of oxycodone, tramadol, fentanyl, pethidine, and ephedrine findings.

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Correspondence to Ilkka Ojanperä.

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Ristimaa, J., Gergov, M., Pelander, A. et al. Broad-spectrum drug screening of meconium by liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry and time-of-flight mass spectrometry. Anal Bioanal Chem 398, 925–935 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00216-010-3942-y

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00216-010-3942-y

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