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>14 Percent of Women Given an Opioid Rx During Pregnancy

Opioid dispensation split fairly evenly during all three trimesters, but highest in third trimester

>14 Percent of Women Given an Opioid Rx During Pregnancy

THURSDAY, Feb. 20, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Opioids are fairly commonly dispensed during pregnancy, with 14.4 percent of women dispensed an opioid at some point during pregnancy, according to a study published online Feb. 12 in Anesthesiology.

Brian T. Bateman, M.D., from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues utilized a research database to define a cohort of 534,500 women with completed pregnancies who were enrolled in a commercial insurance plan from six months before pregnancy through delivery. The prevalence and patterns of opioid use were examined.

The researchers found that at some point during pregnancy, 14.4 percent of women were dispensed an opioid: 5.7 percent during the first trimester; 5.7 percent during the second trimester; and 6.5 percent during third trimester. Opioid dispensation occurred three or more times during pregnancy for 2.2 percent of the cohort. Hydrocodone (6.8 percent), codeine (6.1 percent), and oxycodone (2.0 percent) were the most commonly dispensed opioids during pregnancy. During the study period, there was a decrease in the prevalence of opioid exposure at anytime during pregnancy, from 14.9 to 12.9 percent for pregnancies that delivered in 2005 and 2011, respectively. There was significant regional variation in the prevalence of exposure, which was lowest in the Northeast and highest in the South.

"Given the small and inconsistent body of literature on their safety in pregnancy, these findings suggest a need for research in this area," the authors write.

Two authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical and health care technology industries.

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