<- Home <- Arhive <- Vol. 25, Issue 2, June 2017



Rom J Leg Med25(2)185-192(2017)
DOI:10.4323/rjlm.2017.185
© Romanian Society of Legal Medicine


Detection of drugs in paired maternal and umbilical cord blood samples

F. Veit, F. Erdmann, C. Birngruber, R. Dettmeyer


Abstract: Objectives. The consumption of drugs during pregnancy or delivery leads to pre and intranatal drug exposure of the fetus. The purpose of this study was to examine paired blood samples of the mother and the umbilical cord regarding drug distribution.
Methods. Over a period of two years, 22 pregnant women with known or admitted drug use were selected. Paired blood samples of the mothers and the umbilical cord blood were collected shortly before and during birth/caesarean section, respectively. The samples were subjected to systematic immunochemical, HPLC-DAD, GC/MS and LC-MS/MS analysis and compared regarding presence of drugs.
Results. Methadone, THC-COOH, tramadol, benzoylecgonine, citalopram, carbamazepine, lamotrigine, perazine, methylphenidate, quetiapine, ranitidine and most constituents of spinal and epidural anaesthesia were found in both, maternal and umbilical cord blood samples. THC, 11-OH-THC, olanzapine, diphenhydramine and telmisartan were found in maternal blood only.
Conclusions. As previously shown a variety of drugs is able to pass the placenta of pregnant woman. Umbilical cord blood appears to be a viable matrix for the detection of maternal drug consumption. Drugs administered during labour and birth could be detected in umbilical cord blood. Further studies with a greater collective of women with known drug use including analyses of fetal/infant samples will yield additional information in the future.
Keywords: umbilical cord, placental transfer, forensics, legal medicine, maternal drug abuse.



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