Naloxone reverses neonatal depression caused by fetal asphyxia

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Science  11 Jun 1982:
Vol. 216, Issue 4551, pp. 1252-1253
DOI: 10.1126/science.7200636


Pregnant near-term rabbits were given an intravenous dose of saline or the opiate antagonist naloxone and then asphyxiated. The fetuses were delivered by cesarean section and evaluated for respiration, color, muscle tone, response to stimulation, and general activity at 1, 3, 5, 10, 15, and 30 minutes of age. The naloxone-treated pups had significantly better scores during the first 15 minutes after birth than the saline-treated pups. Naloxone did not adversely affect the scores of nonasphyxiated pups. These data suggest that endogenous opiates worsen the neonatal depression caused by intrauterine asphyxia and that this effect can be reversed by naloxone.