Opioids are frequently prescribed to reproductive-aged women in the U.S., raising concerns about fetal exposure in unrecognized or unintended pregnancies, an MMWR article finds. Opioid exposure during pregnancy is potentially associated with increased risks for neonatal abstinence syndrome and birth defects.
CDC researchers examined two databases — one of Medicaid recipients and the other of individuals with employer-sponsored private insurance — to estimate opioid prescribing rates among reproductive-aged women (aged 15-44 years) from 2008 to 2012. In each year of the study, data were available for roughly 600,000 Medicaid recipients and 5.5 million privately insured women.
Some 39% of Medicaid recipients and 28% of privately insured women filled prescriptions for opioids in a given year. Among women who filled such prescriptions in 2012, Medicaid enrollees filled an average of 4.3, and privately insured women, 2.6. Overall, hydrocodone was the most commonly prescribed opioid, followed by codeine and oxycodone.