An estimated one-quarter of women who gave birth between 2003 and 2015 were prescribed opioids post-delivery. Opioid prescriptions, especially those administered at high doses or more frequently, are often associated with the development of an opioid use disorder (OUD). However, not much is known about the rate of opioid prescribing and its association with the development of OUD among women after childbirth. The rate of utilization of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) among those women who develop OUD after giving birth is also unknown. Knowledge of the risk of OUD among postpartum women with opioid prescriptions can help federal and state authorities when designing substance use disorder treatment programs. The health and financial burden of the opioid epidemic has been disproportionately hard on reproductive-aged women, and has led to a five-fold increase in Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome among infants. Understanding of the utilization of MAT among this population and how it varies based on demographic and socioeconomic factors can help policymakers plan treatment programs that more effectively target this population.

This report aims to analyze Medicaid and private health insurance claims data to estimate: i) postpartum opioid prescribing rate among women who gave birth; ii) rate of OUD development among those with postpartum opioid prescriptions; and iii) utilization of MAT among those who develop OUD after childbirth.

Authors: Mir M. Ali, Kristina West, and Emma Nye

Publication Date: December 2020

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