New Report Offers Recommendations on Opioid Use in Pregnancy

Pregnant Woman Wearing Marled Gray Sweater Touching Her Stomach (source: Pexels)

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 7% of women self-reported using prescription opioids during pregnancy and more alarmingly, one in five of those women said they got the opioids from a source other than their doctor or were taking them for a reason other than pain management. With rising rates of infants born with neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS), the impacts on both women and their babies is concerning.

A recent report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, published in the November 2020 issue of Pediatrics aimed to provide new insights and direction on how to combat this public health crisis. According to the report, infants born with NOWS, a form of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) where withdrawal is from opioids, increased from 1.2 to 8.8 per 1000 births. This condition requires treatment at birth and causes pain and discomfort to the infant. Long term impacts can include hearing and vision issues,  neurological deficits, and motor delays. 

Finding ways to prevent NOWS is essential. The report provides recommendations to better help pregnant women receive needed care and treatment. These include having access to medications for opioid use disorder to reduce risk of overdose and improve pregnancy outcomes, the use by hospitals of standardized protocols to help infants exposed to opioids, and the application of breastfeeding, rooming-in, and kangaroo care where appropriate to promote bonding and improved infant outcomes.

CDC, the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and organizations such as Mother to Baby and the March of Dimes offer resources to raise awareness of NAS and NOWS to pregnant women, women who may become pregnant, and their families. Efforts by CSIP and partners also aim to reduce access to illegally obtained opioids and also to encourage households to get rid of unused opioids via National Take Back-Day and other related ongoing initiatives. 

About the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP)
The Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP), a non-profit organization founded in 2011 by the White House, represents the technology sector and commerce intermediaries including Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Oath, UPS, PayPal, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, and .Health. CSIP’s mission is to promote industry best practices as it relates to illegal online pharmacies, and educating consumers about safe purchasing of prescription drugs.