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Prevalence of prescription opioid use during pregnancy: Indication of use, duration of use, and description of maternal characteristics

  • Author(s): Nardo, Katherina Angela
  • Advisor(s): Bandoli, Gretchen
  • et al.

Objective: Opioid prescription rates in North America have increased dramatically over the past two decades, but little is known about prenatal opioid use. The purpose of this study is to determine the prevalence of prescription opioid use among pregnant women in the U.S. and Canada, as well as the duration, timing, and indication of use and lastly, to provide a description of maternal characteristics of those who used opioids.

Methods: Data were collected between 2004-2018 from a prospective cohort of 1,035 women in the MotherToBaby Pregnancy Studies.

Results: Seven percent of women used any prescription opioids during pregnancy. Most used opioids to treat acute illnesses and injuries, during one trimester of pregnancy. Similar proportions of use were found across Trimesters 1, 2, and 3. There were a higher proportion of women with low SES, low educational attainment, overweight or obese BMI scores, a history of miscarriages, a history of terminated pregnancies, tobacco use, and co-occuring health conditions among women who used prescription opioids than in women who did not.

Conclusion: Prescription opioids were used in pregnancy, and more often by women with other factors that increase the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes. These findings support the call for additional research to examine the risk of adverse pregnancy or birth outcomes associated with prenatal opioid use.

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