Cocaine disposition in meconium from newborns of cocaine-abusing mothers and urine of adult drug users

Jonathan Oyler, William D. Darwin, Kenzie L. Preston, Patricia Suess, Edward J. Cone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


The analysis of meconium for cocaine and metabolites has proved to be a reliable method for the detection of fetal cocaine exposure. Better sensitivity and a larger gestational window of detection have been demonstrated for meconium testing as compared with neonatal urine testing. Cocaine and cocaine metabolites, including benzoylecgonine, ecgonine methyl ester, cocaethylene, norcocaine, benzoylnorecgonine, and m- hydroxybenzoylecgonine, have been identified in meconium. The origin of these metabolites, whether maternal or fetal, has not been established. This study was conducted to compare the disposition of cocaine and metabolites in meconium from fetuses exposed to cocaine with that of urine from cocaine abusers. Meconium specimens were obtained from six neonates of mothers positive for cocaine use by urinalysis or self-reporting or both during pregnancy. Urine specimens were obtained from 17 adult female and 17 adult male cocaine users enrolled in a treatment program. Specimens were analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry for cocaine and 12 related analytes. The following analytes were identified and measured in meconium and urine: anhydroecgonine methyl ester; ecgonine methyl ester; ecgonine ethyl ester; cocaine; cocaethylene; benzoylecgonine; norcocaine; norcocaethylene; benzoylnorecgonine; m- and p-hydroxycocaine; and m- and p- hydroxybenzoylecgonine. In addition, both m- and p-hydroxybenzoylecgonine were found to exhibit approximately equal cross-reactivity with benzoylecgonine in the EMIT and TDx assays. The presence of p- hydroxybenzoylecgonine in meconium suggested that this newly identified metabolite, like m-hydroxybenzoylecgonine, might serve as a valuable marker of fetal cocaine exposure during pregnancy. The presence of cocaine and anhydroecgonine methyl ester in meconium was attributed to transfer across the placenta from the mother. However, the origin of the hydrolytic and oxidative metabolites of cocaine could not be established because they were also identified in urine specimens of adult female cocaine users and could have arisen in meconium from either fetal or maternal metabolism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)453-462
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of analytical toxicology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Oct 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Chemical Health and Safety


Dive into the research topics of 'Cocaine disposition in meconium from newborns of cocaine-abusing mothers and urine of adult drug users'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this