infant visual evoked potentialsMisuse of drugs during pregnancy has been found to increase the risk of infant visual impairments. Researchers from the Princess Royal Maternity in Glasgow recently published a study in the journal Pediatrics on the infant visual evoked potentials (VEP).

All visual tests were performed three days after birth. One hundred infants born to mothers using prescription methadone were compared to 50 control infants matched for socioeconomic status, birth weight and gestation. Researchers adjusted the results of the study for confounding factors like smoking, alcohol abuse and birth weight.

Conclusion: When the fetus is exposed to methadone flash VEPs are altered. Visual testing may be needed throughout infancy, early childhood and beyond to detect visual problems early. Early detection may help with vision correction.

Source: McGlone L, Hamilton R, McCulloch DL, Boulton R, Bradnam MS, Weaver LT, Mactier H. Neonatal Visual Evoked Potentials in Infants Born to Mothers Prescribed Methadone. Pediatrics. 2013 Feb 18.