WASHINGTON – Women using chronic prescription opioids while pregnant have obstetrics outcomes similar to those of women chronically using illegal opioids and/or other forms of opioid substitution therapy.
Dr. Kaitlin Hanmer of Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, analyzed 76 women who presented to the medical center for care between 2000 and 2015, comparing 22 women in the prescription opioid group and 54 women in the illicit opioid/opioid substitution therapy group. Among the 22 women in the prescription group, 13.6% of those pregnancies had a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) consult, compared with 44.4% of the 54 women in the illicit opioid/opioid substitution therapy. She presented the findings at the annual meeting of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
“The surprising finding was that women who used prescription opioids were less likely to be offered, or to have, an NICU consult during their pregnancy – prior to the birth – than were the women in the illicit opioid/opioid substitution therapy group, even though infants from both groups were significantly more likely to have longer hospital stays than their mothers,” Dr. Hanmer said in an interview.
In both groups, the hospital stays for the infants were significantly longer than for their mothers. Among infants born to mothers in the prescribed opioids group, 54.5% were hospitalized for more than 4 days longer than their mothers. This was true for 83.3% of infants born to mothers in the illicit opioid/opioid substitution therapy group.
The study also examined neonatal abstinence syndrome and found that 50% of infants of mothers using prescribed opioids were likely to be diagnosed with neonatal abstinence syndrome, compared with 81.5% of the infants of mothers in the illicit opioid/opioid substitution therapy group.
“Regardless of type of opioid use in pregnancy or preconceived notions about certain patients, we as practicing doctors need to use our points of care during the antenatal period to maximize the success of transition to the post partum period for both mom and baby,” Dr. Hanmer said. “At the end of the day, the goal is healthy mom and healthy baby.”
Dr. Hanmer reported having no financial disclosures.