Resting state functional MRI in infants with prenatal opioid exposure—a pilot study

Rupa Radhakrishnan, Nahla M.H. Elsaid, Senthilkumar Sadhasivam, Thomas A. Reher, Abbey C. Hines, Karmen K. Yoder, Andrew J. Saykin, Yu-Chien Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Purpose: Exposure to prenatal opioids may adversely impact the developing brain networks. The aim of this pilot study was to evaluate alterations in amygdalar functional connectivity in human infants with prenatal opioid exposure. Methods: In this prospective IRB approved study, we performed resting state functional MRI (rs-fMRI) in 10 infants with prenatal opioid exposure and 12 infants without prenatal drug exposure at < 48 weeks corrected gestational age. Following standard preprocessing, we performed seed-based functional connectivity analysis with the right and left amygdala as the regions of interest after correcting for maternal depression and infant sex. We compared functional connectivity of the amygdala network between infants with and without prenatal opioid exposure. Results: There were significant differences in connectivity of the amygdala seed regions to the several cortical regions including the medial prefrontal cortex in infants who had prenatal opioid exposure when compared with opioid naïve infants. Conclusion: This finding of increased amygdala functional connectivity in infants with in utero opioid exposure suggests a potential role of maternal opioid exposure on infants’ altered amygdala function. This association with prenatal exposure needs to be replicated in future larger studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StateAccepted/In press - 2020


  • Addiction
  • Functional connectivity
  • Neonatal abstinence syndrome
  • Neurodevelopment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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