Opioid Use Disorder Numbers Among Pregnant Women Are on the Rise

CDC researchers find the rates of pregnant women with opioid use disorder are climbing and recommends strategies to reduce associated negative health outcomes.


The number of women with opioid use disorder (OUD) at labor and delivery more than quadrupled between 1999 and 2014, according to a first-ever multistate analysis of trends by the CDC.

Researchers found that the national prevalence rate of OUD rose from 1.5 per 1,000 delivery hospitalizations in 1999 to 6.5 in 2014. On average, the national prevalence rate grew by 0.39 cases per 1,000 each year.

The increases were significant and seen in all of the 28 states with at least 3 years of data available for analysis. The average increases were lowest in California and Hawaii and highest in Maine, New Mexico, Vermont, and West Virginia.

Opioid use disorder during pregnancy has been associated with a range of negative health outcomes, including maternal death, preterm birth, stillbirth, and neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).

The CDC’s recommended strategies include:

  • 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; and
  • Ensuring that mothers with OUD receive adequate patient-centered postpartum care, including mental health and substance use treatment, relapse-prevention programs, and family planning services

The CDC also is supporting state-based perinatal quality cooperatives, networks of teams working to better identify women with OUD during pregnancy and to standardize care for mothers and NAS-affected infants.

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