Risks and realities: Dyadic interaction between 6-month-old infants and their mothers in opioid maintenance treatment
A number of studies point to methadone exposure in utero as a possible risk factor in the developing mother–infant relationship in the first year of life. This study is part of a larger, national follow-up of 38 infants prenatally exposed to methadone or buprenorphine and 36 comparison, low-risk infants.
The aim of the present paper is to assess the quality of mother–infant relationship when the infants are 6 months old.
Videotaped mother–infant interactions were rated in a global scale (NICHD). Maternal and infant contributions collapsed into the variables “infant style” and “maternal style” showed that the only factor making significant contribution to the outcome measure “dyadic mutuality” was maternal style.
The importance of group membership (exposed versus non-exposed), was reduced when controlling for maternal drug use prior to opioid maintenance treatment (OMT), maternal depression and parenting stress as well as infants’ developmental status and sensory-integrative functions. This suggests that prediction of dyadic mutuality should be based on individual characteristics rather than group characteristics.
These results support previous research findings that methadone and buprenorphine use per se does not have direct influence on the quality of early mother–infant relationship, but tailored follow-up procedures targeting drug-free pregnancies and parenting support are beneficial for women in OMT and their children.