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First Multistate Analysis of Opioid Use Disorder among Women Delivering Babies is Sobering

August 09, 2018

Nationwide, the rate of opioid use disorder (OUD) among women delivering babies more than quadrupled during a 15-year period ending during 2014, according to a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report prepared by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

This is the first multistate analysis of opioid use disorder among delivery hospitalizations. The CDC analyzed hospital discharge data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project to identify trends from 1999 through 2014. The analysis is based on data available for 28 states, and does not include Pennsylvania.

It found that the national prevalence of OUD diagnoses (heroin or prescription painkillers) among women giving birth in hospitals increased 333 percent, from 1.5 cases per 1,000 deliveries to 6.5.

When pregnant women use opioid drugs, the drugs harm the mother and child, and can lead to stillbirth, preterm labor, neonatal abstinence syndrome and, in some cases, death of the mother.

The CDC-recommended strategies for addressing OUD among pregnant women include:

  • Ensuring appropriate opioid prescribing, in line with the 2016 CDC Guidelines for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain
  • Maximizing and enhancing prescription drug monitoring programs that collect, monitor, and analyze controlled substance dispensing
  • Implementing universal substance use screening at the first prenatal visit
  • Ensuring pregnant women with OUD have access to medication-assisted therapy and related addiction services
  • Ensuring mothers with OUD receive patient-centered postpartum care, such as mental health and substance use treatment, relapse-prevention programs, and family planning services

CDC officials say the data included in the new report can provide a "solid foundation for developing and tailoring prevention and treatment efforts." They stressed that there is continued need for national, state, and provider efforts to prevent, monitor, and treat OUD among reproductive-aged and pregnant women.

Pennsylvania’s hospital community remains committed to taking a leading role to address the opioid crisis and continues to support the commonwealth’s work to address the opioid crisis. Hospitals play crucial roles in preventing overdoses and treating substance use disorder and they continue to work to turn the tide on the epidemic.

Pennsylvania’s hospitals have been, among other things:

  • Collaborating with government, county organizations, and other health care providers to organize warm handoff protocols, to help overdose survivors connect to treatment options
  • Supporting programs to help mothers with substance use disorder and their babies suffering from neonatal abstinence syndrome 
  • Implementing safe opioid prescription guidelines and monitoring patients’ prescription pain medication use via the Pennsylvania Drug Monitoring Database
  • Facilitating education and access to overdose prevention resources

For information about state and federal opioid response efforts, contact Jennifer Jordan, HAP’s vice president, regulatory advocacy, or Laura Stevens Kent, HAP’s vice president, federal advocacy.

 

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