According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of pregnant women with opioid use disorder (OUD) has more than quadrupled between 1999 and 2014. The data revealed this month from the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report found that rates significantly increased in all of the 28 states that can provide 3 years of data.

It is important to note that the rate of OUD increase varies — for instance, in Maine, New Mexico, Vermont, and West Virginia, the rate exceeded 2.5 per 1,000 deliveries per year. In 2014 specifically, rates ranged from 0.7 in Washington, DC to 48.6 in Vermont.

This increasing trend, according to the CDC, may “represent actual increases in prevalence or improved screening and diagnosis”. The report clarified that diagnostic procedures differ by state, however “states with enhanced procedures for identifying infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome might ascertain more cases of maternal opioid use disorder.”

CDC Director Robert Redfield, argued “Untreated opioid use disorder during pregnancy can lead to heartbreaking results. Each case represents a mother, a child, and a family in need of continued treatment and support.”

According to the CDC’s 2016 Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain:

  • States should enhance their prescription drug monitoring programs
  • Women should receive a substance use screening at their first prenatal visit
  • Women should receive access to addiction counseling services as well as medication-assisted therapy, and adequate patient-centered postpartum care that includes mental health and substance use treatment.

In 2016, the CDC expanded the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System in a number of states to assess substance use before and during pregnancy.

First Focus is committed to advocating on behalf of pregnant women and children. The growing rate of pregnant women with OUD is an alarming trend. More states should enhance their prescription drug monitoring programs and improve screening.