News Release 

Birth, child outcomes associated with moms using opioids during pregnancy

JAMA Network Open

Bottom Line: In utero exposure to opioids was associated with higher risks for short- and long-term adverse outcomes including preterm birth and neurodevelopmental and physical health disorders in children. This observational study analyzed clinical and epidemiological data for a group of 8,509 mother-child pairs collected at birth starting in 1998, and 3,153 children who continued to be followed after birth up to age 21 years old. Of the 8,509 children, 454 (5.3%) had in utero opioid exposure, which was defined as maternal self-reported opioid use or a clinical diagnosis of neonatal abstinence syndrome for a child. The study reports that in utero exposure to opioids was associated with a higher likelihood of being small for gestational age and preterm birth. In utero exposure to opioids also was associated with postnatal neurodevelopmental and physical disorders, including a higher likelihood of conduct disorder or emotional disturbance diagnoses, as well as lack of normal physiological development in children before age 6 years old, and later on, a higher likelihood of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Study limitations to consider include that mothers may have used other substances, such as alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana and stimulants, which could have influenced the outcomes.


Authors: Romuladus E. Azuine, Dr.P.H., M.P.H., R.N., U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Rockville, Maryland, and coauthors


Editor's Note: The article includes funding/support disclosures. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

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About JAMA Network Open: JAMA Network Open is the new online-only open access general medical journal from the JAMA Network. Every Friday, the journal publishes peer-reviewed clinical research and commentary in more than 40 medical and health subject areas. Every article is free online from the day of publication.

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