HealthDay News — From 2007 to 2016, there was a sharp increase in pregnancy-associated mortality involving opioids, according to a research letter recently published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Alison Gemmill, PhD, from Stony Brook University in New York, and colleagues used death certificate and live birth data from the US National Vital Statistics System (2007-2016) to identify pregnancy-associated deaths (death from any cause while pregnant or within one year of pregnancy termination) among women aged 15 to 49 years. The analysis was limited to the District of Columbia and 22 states that include a pregnancy checkbox on state death certificates.

The researchers found that between 2007 and 2016, the pregnancy-associated mortality ratio, expressed as deaths per 100,000 live births, increased 34% (from 31.7 to 42.3). Simultaneously, pregnancy-associated mortality involving opioids more than doubled in terms of the rate (1.3 to 4.2) and the percentage of all pregnancy-associated deaths (4 to 10%). Despite their lower risk for all-cause pregnancy-associated mortality compared with non-Hispanic black women, white women had the largest increases in pregnancy-associated mortality involving opioids. The majority of pregnancy-associated deaths involving opioids (70% in 2016) occurred during pregnancy or within 42 days of pregnancy termination. By 2016, 78% of deaths involving opioids were due to heroin or other synthetic opioids, up from 17% in 2007.

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“The findings indicate that interventions are urgently needed to reverse these concerning trends,” the authors write.

Abstract/Full Text