Morphometric analysis in ethnic neonates from multiple substance exposure

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In the United States, approximately 10% of newborn infants are exposed prenatally to alcohol and/or illicit substances. However, no studies have evaluated the compounding effects of multiple illicit substances exposure in utero as potential teratogen (s). The potential teratogenic effects of nicotine and illicit substances (e.g. cocaine, marijuana and heroin) have previously been studied but there has been no documentation of facial landmark dislocation (s). Our goal is to investigate whether morphometric analysis could differentiate facial landmark dislocations in neonates of African descent, when exposed to alcohol, nicotine and illicit substances, either singly or in combination. Craniofacial features from a cohort of 493 African-American neonates less than 48 hours of age were analyzed by Multivariate Hotelling's T 2 analysis of 99 relevant facial landmark triangles. Morphometric analysis discriminated unique asymmetries in groups of certain illicit exposure(s). Neonates with multiple prenatal exposures had fewer facial landmark dislocation(s) compared to single exposures. Deviation from normal facial features has the potential to be used as a screening tool for prenatal exposure to some illicit substances.

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