The Scoop on Biological Testing for Detecting or Confirming Drug-Exposed Newborns - What, When and How?


Drug use during pregnancy is associated with acute and chronic medical needs for the associated newborn, including management of neonatal abstinence syndrome. This presentation reviews drug use patterns among pregnant women in the United States and options for biological testing to detect drug-exposed newborns. Strengths, challenges, and interpretive tools are discussed with emphasis on meconium and umbilical cord tissue, two newborn specimens that are widely used today.

Originally published on February 7, 2019

Lecture Presenter

Gwen McMillin, PhD, DABCC(CC,TC)

Gwen McMillin, PhD, DABCC(CC,TC)

Professor (clinical) of Pathology
University of Utah School of Medicine
Medical Director of Toxicology and Pharmacogenetics
ARUP Laboratories

Dr. McMillin is a professor of pathology at the University of Utah School of Medicine. She received her PhD in pharmacology and toxicology from the University of Utah and is certified by the American Board of Clinical Chemistry in clinical chemistry and toxicological chemistry. She is a member of ARUP’s R&D Executive Committee, and is actively involved in professional associations such as the International Association of Therapeutic Drug Monitoring and Clinical Chemistry (IATDMCT), the American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC), and the College of American Pathologists (CAP). Her primary interests include detection of neonatal drug exposures, pain management, and clinical applications and implementation of pharmacogenomics.


After this presentation, participants will be able to:

  • Compare and contrast approaches to drug testing during and after pregnancy.
  • Understand the strengths and weaknesses of meconium and umbilical cord tissue for drug testing.
  • Discuss how to investigate an “unexpected” drug testing result.

Sponsored by:

University of Utah School of Medicine, Department of Pathology, and ARUP Laboratories