According to a recent analysis of national data by the Centers for Disease Control, the number of pregnant women with opioid use disorder (as documented at the time of delivery) more than quadrupled from 1999 through 2014.

Studies of opioid exposure in pregnancy suggest increased risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes including stillbirth, higher rates of maternal mortality, neonatal abstinence syndrome, and birth defects (including neural tube defects and congenital heart defects).  Birth defects result from exposures which occur during the first few weeks of pregnancy, when many women are not aware that they are pregnant.  Therefore, the CDC urges health care providers to assess opioid medication use in all women of reproductive age.

An Expert Commentary Series from the CDC provides information regarding opioid use disorders in women and provides guidelines for assessing women with substance use disorders.

Ruta Nonacs, MD PhD

What We Can Do About Opioid Use Disorder in Pregnancy (Medscape – free registration)


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