Natural drugs, not so natural effects: Neonatal abstinence syndrome secondary to ‘kratom’

Davidson, L., Rawat, M., Stojanovski, S., Chandrasekharan, P.* | JNPM 2019;

BACKGROUND: Mitragyna speciosa, also known as kratom, is obtained from the coffee plant family ‘Rubiaceae.’ Kratom is available in the form of capsules, whole, processed and powdered leaves, and as liquids. Secondary to its ‘natural herb’ status and opioid effects, it is misconceived to be a safe alternative for the treatment of chronic pain. The use of kratom has increased by tenfold in the United States since 2010.
METHODS AND RESULTS: We report a term neonate who was born to a chronic kratom user and required treatment with opiates for neonatal drug withdrawal.
CONCLUSION: Physicians should be aware of these herbal supplements and its potential withdrawal effects in newborn which cannot be picked up by the standard toxicology screen.

*Corresponding Author: 

Praveen Chandrasekharan, Division of Neonatology, Department of Pediatrics, Oishei Children’s Hospital, University at Buffalo, 818 Ellicott St, Buffalo, NY 14203, USA. Tel.: +1 716 323 0260; E-mail: