Patterns of opioid utilization in pregnancy in a large cohort of commercial insurance beneficiaries in the United States.

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Abstract

BACKGROUND

There are few data regarding the utilization of opioids during pregnancy. The objective of this study was to define the prevalence and patterns of opioid use in a large cohort of pregnant women who were commercial insurance beneficiaries.

METHODS

Data for the study were derived from a deidentified research database of women from across the United States who had both medical and prescription benefits. By using diagnostic codes, the authors defined a cohort of 534,500 women with completed pregnancies who were enrolled in a commercial insurance plan from 6 months before pregnancy through delivery.

RESULTS

Overall, 76,742 women (14.4%) were dispensed an opioid at some point during pregnancy. There were 30,566 women (5.7%) dispensed an opioid during the first trimester, 30,434 women (5.7%) during the second trimester, and 34,906 women (6.5%) during the third trimester. Of these, 11,747 women (2.2%) were dispensed opioids three or more times during pregnancy. The most commonly dispensed opioids during pregnancy were hydrocodone (6.8%), codeine (6.1%), and oxycodone (2.0%). The prevalence of exposure at anytime during pregnancy decreased slightly during the study period from 14.9% for pregnancies that delivered in 2005 to 12.9% in 2011. The prevalence of exposure varied significantly by region and was lowest in the Northeast and highest in the South.

CONCLUSIONS

This study demonstrates that opioids are very common exposures during pregnancy. Given the small and inconsistent body of literature on their safety in pregnancy, these findings suggest a need for research in this area.

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