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Incidence of Fetal Drug Exposure in Alabama: 2004–2011

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Postmortem toxicological results for neonates and stillborn fetuses were examined to determine the incidence of drug exposure in utero and the relationship to fetal mortality. From 15,600 fatalities with toxicological analyses, 39 subjects were identified; 22 had positive findings (56%). Among the general population, 10,500 had positive findings (67%). Among the subject population, 22 drugs/metabolites were identified; cocaine/benzoylecgonine was most frequent (9 of 22 cases, 41%) then methamphetamine/amphetamine (7 of 22 cases, 32%). Respective incidences among the general positive population were 12% and 6%. Fetal/neonatal concentrations overlap the general population and exceed the mother. Remaining substances, detected largely in fatalities unrelated to drug exposure, were of little toxicological significance. The variety, with exceptions, reflects the general population. That the incidence of cocaine and methamphetamine among fetuses/neonates is three‐ and fivefold greater than the general population is evidence that maternal abuse of these drugs poses greater risk to fetal viability than all other substances identified.
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Keywords: drugs in utero; fetal drugs; forensic science; forensic toxicology; postmortem drugs; trans‐placental drug delivery

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2014

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