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NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

Workshop Addresses Opioid Misuse During Pregnancy

Tablets containing opioids

Research is essential to determining how best to screen pregnant women for opioid use disorder, to treat pregnant women who have the disorder and to care for infants as they experience withdrawal symptoms, according to experts convened for a workshop co-sponsored by NICHD. A summary of the workshop appears online in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Opioids are a class of drugs often used for pain relief. Approximately 91 people in the United States die every day from an opioid overdose, with more than 33,000 deaths in 2015—the highest on record—according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Opioid prescriptions have quadrupled since 1999, putting large numbers of reproductive-age women at risk for developing opioid use disorder and their newborns at risk for drug withdrawal or neonatal abstinence syndrome.

“Opioid use disorder is an accelerating crisis in the United States, particularly among pregnant women,” said NICHD director Dr. Diana Bianchi. “NICHD brought together experts to review the current evidence on how to best recognize, treat and manage this condition and to identify the research needed to improve outcomes for affected women, their newborn infants and their families.”

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