Opiate addiction is now a major public health problem. Perinatal insults and exposure to opiates such as morphine in utero are well known to affect development of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis of the offspring adversely and are associated with a higher risk of developing neurobehavioral problems. Oxycodone is now one of the most frequently abused pain killers during pregnancy; however, limited data are available regarding whether and how perinatal oxycodone exposure (POE) alters neurobehavioral outcomes of the offspring. We demonstrated that exposure to 0.5 mg/kg/day oxycodone in utero was associated with hyperactivity in adult rats in an open field. No significant effects of POE were detected on isolation-induced ultrasonic vocalizations in the early postnatal period or on learning and memory in the water maze in adult offspring. Our findings are consistent with hyperactivity problems identified in children exposed to opiates in utero.

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Published in Frontiers in Pediatrics, v. 5, 180, p. 1-13.

© 2017 Sithisarn, Legan, Westgate, Wilson, Wellmann, Bada and Barron.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

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This study is funded by Children’s Miracle Network Grant, #1012122240.