WVU alumni and researchers present study on efficiency of UCTDA among newborn infants

A recent study by West Virginia University School of Medicine researchers examined the efficiency of a procedure used to assess drug exposure in infants following delivery.

This study examined the efficacy of a procedure known as umbilical cord tissue drug analysis (UCTDA) among infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome who were admitted to the NICU at WVU Medicine Berkeley Medical Center in Martinsburg. The purpose of performing UCTDA is the early identification of a maternal opioid-related diagnosis among infants who are affected by drug use during pregnancy.

The study was conducted by two 2023 graduates of the West Virginia University School of Medicine, Elizabeth Proenza, M.D.; and Nizmi Ponery, M.D. Dr. Proenza is a first-year resident in the Pediatric Residency Program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Dr. Ponery is a first-year resident in the Pediatric Residency Program at Northwell Health Cohen Children’s Medical Center. Additional contributors include Vignesh Gunasekaran, M.D., and Panitan Yossuck, M.D., who are both clinical faculty for the Department of Pediatrics at the Eastern Campus. Dr. Gunasekaran and Dr. Yossuck both served as mentors to Proenza and Ponery for this project.

Through this study, researchers concluded that UCTDA should be used cautiously, as the rate of detection for illicit drugs such as cocaine and heroin is low. They also determined that the reliability of UCTDA as the definitive indicator for discharge disposition should be discouraged.

Proenza and Ponery presented these findings at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference & Exhibition, which was held from Oct. 20-24 in Washington DC.

To learn more about the research opportunities available within the Department of Pediatrics, visit medicine.wvu.edu/pediatrics/research.