Over the last few decades, United States Drug Testing Laboratories, Inc. (USD), has been quietly making a huge impact on the lives of some of the most vulnerable Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) patients, newborns exposed to substances of abuse during gestation.
Today USDTL announced that they are the first laboratory in the world to commercially offer new-born fentanyl testing in both meconium and umbilical cord tissue specimens.
Fentanyl, defined by the Centre of Disease Control (cdc.org), is a synthetic opioid that is extremely addictive. Like other opioids, abuse during pregnancy can cause new-borns to go into dangerous withdrawal known as Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) and/or have other devastating physical abnormalities.
Fentanyl is a powerful, inexpensive drug that is being cut into illicit substances and its presence is increasing throughout the country.
“Traditionally, fentanyl was mainly accessible via prescribed patches and intravenously, so testing for it was generally reserved for people that had specific access to it. Now, the distribution of fentanyl is booming through illicit drug trade communities in volumes that are difficult to estimate.
Unfortunately, testing for fentanyl as part of a detection or exposure protocol is becoming the new normal. We are grateful to be able to develop and offer these tests to answer the call of so many hospital partners that are trying to get on top of this epidemic,” said Joseph Jones, Chief Operating Officer at USD.
Meconium and umbilical cord tissue are both considered advanced long-term drug testing specimens because both start capturing substances in the newborn’s system up to approximately 20-weeks before birth.
For comparison, new-born urine drug testing has a typical look back window up to approximately 2-3 days before birth.
This longer window of detection from advanced specimens makes it possible to get a better picture of what is going on with the new-born.
“Adapting our tactics –from a population health standpoint– and being able to test for more prevalently abused drugs in the industry is crucial. The landscape continues to change and as a community, we have to be prepared to keep up with the trends,” said Douglas Lewis, President, and Founder of USD.