More than a third of reproductive-aged women enrolled in Medicaid, and more than a quarter of those with private insurance, filled a prescription for an opioid pain medication each year during 2008-2012, according to a CDC report in this week’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Opioids are typically prescribed by health care providers to treat moderate to severe pain. The most commonly prescribed opioids among both groups of women in the report were hydrocodone, codeine and oxycodone.
Why this is important
Taking these medications early in pregnancy can increase the risk for some birth defects (such as spina bifida) and other poor pregnancy outcomes (such as preterm birth or low birth weight). Women who use prescription opioids also have an increased risk of death from an overdose.
Women who are pregnant, or planning to become pregnant, should discuss with their health care professional the risks and benefits for any medication they are taking or considering.
Read the Report from CDC's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD)
Get more information on medication use during pregnancy