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Prenatal Fentanyl Exposure 

Geneticists have recently identified a potential new syndrome among babies that had been prenatally exposed to fentanyl. Six cases were initially identified in a recent study, and four additional cases have recently been identified.  

Characteristics of this new syndrome include microcephaly, short stature, and distinctive facial features.  Additional features identified include cleft palate, “rocker” bottom feet, short/broad thumbs, and single palmar crease.   

The individuals in the study were all reported to have prenatal fentanyl exposure and shared no other genomic or genetic cause for the symptoms.  

Researchers believe that prenatal fentanyl exposure interferes with the cholesterol metabolism which causes the characteristics of this syndrome.  

Healthy Outcomes for your Baby 

Given this groundbreaking research, it is possible that fentanyl could be labeled as a teratogen, or substance that causes birth defects. Until further research into the syndrome is completed, there is no safe amount of fentanyl that should be used during pregnancy. Further research is needed to determine any long-term outcomes for the child associated with fentanyl exposure.  

If you are pregnant and are using or have used fentanyl, please see the resources on our Expectant Parents page or contact us for more information and resources available to you.  

References 

Wadman, et al (2023). A novel syndrome associated with prenatal fentanyl Exposure. Genetics in Medicine. Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2949774423008439 – tbl1 

What is FASD? Check Out Our FASD Resource Directory Drinking & Pregnancy
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