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Nonmedical Use of Opioids Among Pregnant Women

Women’s Health Issues; ePub 2017 Apr 10; Kozhimannil, et al

Nonmedical opioid use among pregnant women in the US is associated with mental illness and co-occurring substance abuse, according to a recent study. Data from the National Survey of Drug Use and Health (2005-2014) included 8,721 noninstitutionalized women aged 12 to 44 years who reported being pregnant. Outcomes were nonmedical use of prescription opioid medications during the past 12 months and during the past 30 days. Researchers found:

  • 5.1% of pregnant US women reported nonmedical opioid use in the past year.
  • Depression or anxiety in the past year was strongly associated with past year nonmedical use, as were past year use of alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana.
  • Additionally, 0.9% of US pregnant women reported nonmedical opioid use in the past month.

The authors noted that policy and prevention efforts to improve screening and treatment could focus on the at-risk populations in this study.


Kozhimannil KB, Graves AJ, Levy R, Patrick SW. Nonmedical use of prescription opioids among pregnant US women. [Published online ahead of print April 10, 2017]. Women’s Health Issues. doi:10.1016/j.whi.2017.03.001.